First digital bet with FirstCry is possible with India’s Sovereign Wealth Fund

In talks to raise FirstCry equity in $150-$200 million in Secondary Deal, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) provides exits to some early investors in baby products retailers on an omnichannel basis.

India’s sovereign wealth fund is seeking its first bet on the expanding digital economy of the country.

Talks on investing in the vertical e-commerce player FirstCry supported by SoftBank were undertaken with the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), three sources knowledgeable of the conversations.

If the deal is concluded, NIIF may invest in other technology start-ups around the country.

This investment is anticipated to be in the secondary deal of roughly $150-$200 million when some early investors sell their shares in the omnichannel shop based in Pune that concentrates on baby and mother care products.

The capital should be valued at well over 2 billion dollars, the same as TPG, ChrysCapital, and Premji Invest put roughly 315 million dollars in the company during March.

“The conversations are now going on for about $150 million, but they could increase to $200 million,” one of the persons told the story.

This would take the current round to approximately $450-$500 million.

“Apart from NIIF, there may also be other new investors. The talks are now underway and might be concluded in the next four to six weeks,” stated another individual.

But it will continue to be its only major stakeholder.

Supam Maheshwari, the founder of FirstCry, refused to comment.

NIIF spokesman said: “We don’t comment on market speculation and information acquired from third-party sources according to the NIIF policy.”

NIIF oversees about $4.5 billion financial commitments across three funds—the Master Fund, the Fund, and the Strategic Opportunities Fund.

In April, it made its first investments in the Indian health sector with roughly 300 million dollars invested in Manipal Hospitals, one of its largest multi-specialty healthcare providers.

In the next 12-18 months, FirstCry also looks into a potential initial public offering (IPO).

The company also has a logistics branch – Xpresbees – expanded in 2015.

The demand on its platform persists, although consumption was affected by the second Covid-19 wave.

“The Eid Week was great for them (FirstCry). Obviously, the present wave impacts, but baby care items are very important in nature and people are still buying them online,” a close-knit person stated.

Investors including Elevation Capital (previously SAIF Partners), Vertex Partners, and MegaDelta Capital Advisors liquidated their whole shares during their $300 million March investment.

FirstCry, formed in September 2010, bought BabyOye in a wholesale purchase valued at roughly $50 million from Mahindra Retail in 2015. The Mahindra Group, Valiant Capital, Ratan Tata, and Kris Gopalakrishnan are among the investors.

FirstCry has more than 300 shops across 125 cities. It has more than 4 million users and more than 200,000 products from 2,000 businesses for babies and children. It competes in the internet segment with Hopscotch and Kids Stop Press.

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