Accel Partners, the first venture investor in Flipkart, has reportedly offloaded a minor part of its stake in India's biggest online retailer for $100 million (about Rs 650 crore), in a bid to book profits amid expectations of stabilization in the valuations of domestic e-commerce firms.
Accel has sold the stake to an existing investor in Flipkart, Qatar Investment Authority, in a deal that values the online marketplace at $15 billion.
While Accel is the second largest stakeholder in the Bengaluru-based online retailing giant, Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the Arab nation, was one of the five investors through which Flipkart had raised funds worth $700 million in December last year.
"The (Accel-QIA) deal closed in November," a person who was aware of the transaction told The Economic Times.
"Given that valuation numbers are expected to stabilise, this is the right time to book returns." Both the sources declined to be identified.
Investors are now looking at companies that concentrate on earning "sustainable profits" without depending on investors' funds to gain customers.
"From time to time, Accel Partners, globally, has sold a small fraction of our holdings in some of our portfolio companies, as secondary transactions... All we can confirm to you right now is that no such transaction is in process," Subrata Mitra, partner at Accel Partners, India.
Indian internet companies have started witnessing "stagnation or decline" in their valuations as fund raising activity slows from the "unprecedented" growth in the first half of 2015. The firms have also been under severe criticism for their expensive valuations.
In September, Vinod Khosla, one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems and a prominent investor, had said that 85% of Indian online retailers, including Flipkart and Snapdeal were 'overvalued'.
"Last year, there was a huge round of valuation of ecommerce companies but the reality is these companies are not making cash flows and profits, and that has to now be the next benchmark for valuations," said Raja Lahiri, a partner at consultancy Grant Thornton, not referring to any company in particular.
Flipkart's losses escalated to Rs.2,000 crore in the fiscal year ending March 2015, up nearly 180% as compared to Rs.715 crore in the previous year, according to the company's filing to the Registrar of Companies.
However, an investor, who does not hold any stake in Flipkart, said that the Accel-QIA deal could be a "routine" year-end exercise.
"Typically, funds look for an upside on their holdings at end of the year as it determines the performance, and Flipkart is one of (Accel's) biggest holdings," the investor said.