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Leading e-tailer Snapdeal on Monday said it was terminating strategic discussions to sell its stake, ostensibly to rival Flipkart, as it had decided to pursue an independent path. “As we have been exploring strategic options over the months, we have decided to pursue an independent path and terminate all strategic discussions, said a Snapdeal spokesperson in a statement, without referring to Flipkart.

A company official, who did not want to be identified, however told IANS that the formal negotiations scheduled here between the two e-retailers on Monday here were called off at a short notice.

Though Flipkart declined to confirm that its meeting with Snapdeal was cancelled, the latter’s official admitted that their representatives could not meet to take the abandoned ‘deal’ forward.

“We have a compelling direction (Snapdeal 2.0) to create life-changing experiences for millions of buyers and sellers across the country,” said the statement.

After Flipkart offered to buy out the Gurgaon-based Snapdeal at its revised $900-950 million price, the latter’s board decided to seek the consent of its investors, including Ratan Tata and Premji Invest of Wipro czar Azim Premji for exiting the e-retail business.

Other strategic and institutional investors in Snapdeal are Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Foxconn, Temasek and BlackRock.

“With the sale of certain non-core assets, we expect to be financially self-sustainable. We look forward to the support of our community, including employees, sellers, buyers and other stakeholders in helping us create a designed-for-India commerce platform,” added the spokesperson.

Snapdeal has seen its fortunes dwindling in the face of stiff competition from Amazon and Flipkart.

Later, in an e-mail to his 1,200 odd employees, Snapdeal co-founder and Chief Executive Kunal Bahl said a lot of time and effort went into the process, leading to speculation and uncertainty for the team, partners and investors.

“We will continue the journey as an independent company. The opportunity of e-commerce in India is immense and the surface of the $200-billion market has barely been scratched yet,” he said.

Affirming that the company had all the ingredients of success, the CEO said it was time for all to focus on the business and leverage its strength to build the best marketplace to connect buyers to sellers across the country.

On calling off talks with Flipkart, Bahl said the deal was complex to execute as reported by the media.

“First of all, there isn’t going to be one successful model for e-commerce in India. In every market, there are multiple successful e-commerce businesses, and as long as one’s strategy is differentia ted and has a clear path to success, there is a great company that can be built,” he noted.

Elaborating on Snapdeal 2.0 (version), he said the new direction would enable anyone to setup a store online and focus on providing a wide range of products at great prices to consumers.

“We made progress on this new path over the months and are profitable to make upwards of Rs 150 crore in gross profit in the next 12 months,” he claimed.

Following streamlining of costs and sale of some assets like FreeCharge, Bahl said the company was financially self-sufficient and did not need to raise additional capital to reach profitability.

“Needless to say, we need to keep a tight control on our costs and work towards becoming an efficient culture, delivering profitable growth, month on month,” averred Bahl.

Snapdeal on July 27 sold its mobile wallet FreeCharge subsidiary to the Mumbai-based Axis Bank for Rs 385 crore.

With many team members reiterating that the company should continue in its independent capacity, Bahl said the decision was made and there was no ambiguity about it.

First Published | 31 July 2017 11:34 PM
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