Friday 20 December 2019

SoftBank closes $231 million investment in Lenskart

SoftBank closes $231 million investment in LenskartNEW DELHI: SoftBank has invested about $231 million (Rs 1,645 crore) in Lenskart Solutions after months of negotiations with the eyewear solutions company. The Japanese group will back the Faridabad-based company, now valued at $1.5 billion from its second Vision Fund

The financing round was first reported by ET in its edition dated May 27.

SoftBank's investment in Lenskart will be its first in India from Vision Fund-II, and second globally. It is also SVF’s maiden investment this year in India, after the Masayoshi Son-led group faced backlash post the debacle at its portfolio firm WeWork a few months ago.

Lenskart passed a board resolution on December 12, approving the allotment of 22.9 million Series G compulsorily convertible cumulative preference shares to SVF II (Cayman Islands) Lightbulb, according to a research note published by, with SoftBank shelling out Rs 714 per share.

When contacted by ET, Peyush Bansal, cofounder & chief executive of Lenskart, declined to comment. Avendus Capital acted as the advisor to Lenskart for the transaction.

Vision Fund-II, which is raising money from Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp, Foxconn Technology Group and the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan, was reported by Bloomberg last month to have made a first close of $2 billion. It has also participated in a financing round for Chinese online property listing service Beike Zhaofang, the report stated. SVF’s first fund was almost $100 billion in size but with concerns around the group’s strategy of backing loss making startups, it is unlikely to mop up a similar gargantuan corpus this time around.

SoftBank closes $231 million investment in Lenskart
The investment in Lenskart was led by Sumer Juneja, partner and head of India at SoftBank Investment Advisors who joined the world’s largest technology investor in November last year. The deal is also the second bet by SoftBank on a vertical ecommerce business with a sizeable offline presence. The world’s largest tech investor had, last year, pumped $150 million into baby products retailer FirstCry, which also runs brick-and-mortar stores.

Lenskart, which was founded in 2010, has been steadily improving its P&L over the last three years, while also expanding in its core home market as well as overseas, and entering into a slew of new categories, such as contact lenses.

On a standalone basis, the company reported net loss of Rs 27.89 crore, compared to net loss of about Rs 118 crore in fiscal year 2017-18, documents filed with the Registrar of Companies, and accessed by business intelligence platform Tofler, showed.

Total revenue in fiscal 2019 touched Rs 486.26 crore, as the company expanded across the country and established its footprint in Singapore, its first overseas market.

Industry players said the country’s eyewear sector is a $10 billion market opportunity, of which the share of the organised sector -- which is defined as any retailer with 10-15 stores --is estimated at just $350-$450 million.

The latest development comes about three months after Kedaara Capital, one of India’s largest home-grown private equity firms, had invested a shade over $55 million in the company.

Kedaara Capital, founded in 2011 by former Temasek India head Manish Kejriwal and former General Atlantic senior executives Sunish Sharma and Nishant Sharma, is also in talks to buy shares in the omni-channel eyewear retailer through a secondary deal.

Lenskart also counts Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures, TR Capital, TPG Growth, International Finance Corp, the private investment arm of the World Bank, Chiratae Ventures, Steadview Capital, PremjiInvest and asset management firm Adveq Management among its list of institutional backers.

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