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December 31, 2014

Private Equity investments bounce back by over 47% to $10.9 Billion in 2014

Powered by mega bets on E-Commerce, 2014 is 2nd biggest year for PE investments after 2007

Flipkart, Snapdeal and Olacabs account for 5 of Top 10 investments during ‘14 

After plunging to a four year low in 2013, Private Equity investments in India bounced back by 47.3% during 2014 to touch $10.9 billion (across 436 deals) – the second highest figure ever, behind only the $14.5 billion (across 529 deals) invested in 2007, according to data from Venture Intelligence, a research service focused on private company financials, transactions and valuations. The surge was led by mega deals in Online Services companies - including especially E-Commerce firms – that accounted for almost $4.1 billion (across 106 deals) or 37.6% of the investment pie during the year. (Note: Venture Intelligence's PE data does not include investments in Real Estate.)

Just the top two home grown e-tailers, Flipkart and Snapdeal, collected almost $3 billion between them in 2014. Flipkart, via its Singapore-based holding company, rounded up $1.91 billion across three rounds – starting with a $210 million one in May, jumping to $1 billion in July and topping up with a $700 million round in December. All three deals figured in the Top 10 largest investments for 2014 and helped take the total funding raised by the 2007-founded Flipkart to about $2.7 billion. Apart from return backers – hedge fund Tiger Global, South African media firm Naspers and global multi-family office Iconiq Capital, new investors flocking to Flipkart in 2014 included Singapore’s GIC, Russia’s DST Global, Qatar Investment Authority, hedge funds Steadview Capital and Greenoaks Capital and other traditionally public market oriented investors like T.Rowe Price and Baillie Gifford. With the number of stakeholders in the Singapore-based Flipkart Limited’s roster crossing the 50 mark, the company has filed for conversion into a public limited company. 

Japan’s SoftBank Corp led a $637 million round for Snapdeal to become the biggest investor in the company. In May 2014, Snapdeal had attracted $100 million including from new investors Temasek, PremjiInvest, the typically public markets focused Blackrock, and hedge funds Tybourne and Myriad. This had followed a $134 million raise in February from the company’s existing Venture Capital investors and strategic investor eBay. 

Softbank also led a $210 million round in for online taxi aggregator Olacabs with participation from the company’s first investor - and key Flipkart backer - Tiger Global, new investor Steadview Capital and existing investor, Matrix Partners India.

In contrast, 2013 had witnessed PE investors committing a total of $7.4 billion (across 433 deals) with only Flipkart featuring among the top 10 investments. Including Flipkart’s two rounds - of $200 million and $160 million - Online Services companies had raised $786 million (across 86 deals) or less than 11% of the PE investment pie in 2013.  

2014 witnessed 18 investments of $100 million or more, compared to 15 such deals in 2013.

Average Deal values climbed steadily with each passing quarter during 2014 - beginning with $2.2 billion (across 129 deals) in Q1 to end with almost $4.1 billion (across 100 deals) in Q4.

Top Investments

In February, Canadian pension funds - Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ) – had teamed up with Omani sovereign wealth fund State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) – to invest INR 2,000 crore (about $323 million) in L&T IDPL, the infrastructure development arm of publicly listed engineering firm Larsen & Toubro. The BPO industry witnessed two significantly large transactions during 2014 including TPG’s acquisition of a 34.5% stake in Sutherland Global in October (that included a primary infusion and buyout of stakes held by existing PE investors) and the $260 million January buyout of the Aditya Birla Group’s BPO unit Minacs by CX Partners and Capital Square Partners.

Warburg Pincus (WP) wrote its largest cheque for the year – of $200 million – to jewelry retailer Kalyan Jewelers. Temasek, which has also been investing in India for over a decade now, revisited the pharmaceuticals sector with a $144 million cheque to buyout ChrysCapital’s stake in Intas Pharmaceuticals.

By Industry

With 224 investments worth about $5.8 billion, Information Technology and IT-Enabled Services (IT & ITES) companies topped in terms of both investment value (53% of the pie) and volume (52%) during 2014. 

Led by the Intas Pharma and Laurus Labs investments, the Healthcare & Life Sciences industry was the next largest destination for PE investments in 2014 attracting $874 million across 44 transactions. Pharmaceuticals firms accounted for six out of the top investments in HLS during 2014. 

The BFSI industry came in next attracting $752 million across 32 transactions with the $100 million investment led by TPG in microfinance company Janalakshmi as the top investment followed by Apax Partners’ $83.2 million in listed non-banking lender Cholamandalam. 

By Stage

Late Stage deals accounted for 50% of the investments in value terms and about 20% in volume terms during 2014, the Venture Intelligence research showed. Venture Capital investments accounted for 56% in volume terms and 10% in value terms. Acquisition of minority stakes in listed companies (“PIPEs”) accounted for 8% in volume terms and 7% in value terms. Despite the $260 million buyout of Minacs BPO, buyouts in total constituted just 6% of the pie in value terms (13% in volume terms) during 2014.

By Region

Companies based in South India (which attracted $4.8 billion across 158 deals) accounted for almost 44% of the PE investment pie in value terms (36% by volume) during 2014. West India-based companies ($3.2 billion across 141 investments) followed with a 29% share (32% by volume). Companies in North India attracted investments worth almost $2.4 billion across 102 deals (22% by value and 23% by volume).

Venture Intelligence is the leading provider of data and analysis on Private Company Financials, Transactions (private equity, venture capital and M&A) & their Valuations in India. Click Here to view our products list including the Free Deal Digest Weekly: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.