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Walmart’s Flipkart Alters IPO Timeline: Report

The ongoing global turmoil precipitated by the Russia-Ukraine war has reportedly impacted Flipkart’s plan to go public this year.

Flipkart isn’t the only player weighing its options due to market uncertainty. Shortly after the start of the conflict, Shein in February scrapped plans to list later this year in New York. Word surfaced this week that Shein is now in investment talks with private equity firms. The slowdown in IPO activity in the first quarter of 2022 reflects a dropoff that began in 2021’s fourth quarter, according to IPO research firm Renaissance Capital.

Whenever Flipkart elects to venture forth into the public market, it could find itself in good company, whether that’s Shein down the road, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, Gymshark, or Vancouver performance outerwear maker Arc’teryx Equipment. Gymshark is restructuring to implement a plan for international expansion, a classic move to show a runway for growth when it eventually pitches to investors. Arc’teryx just brought on a finance wizard, possibly following in the footsteps of Allbirds, which quietly hired a CFO last year nine months before taking the leap to go public.

Flipkart is Walmart Inc.’s Indian e-commerce firm. The American discounter spent $16 billion to acquire a 77 percent stake in the marketplace platform in August 2018. Walmart over the years made outlays to scale up Flipkart’s infrastructure, but caught some flak due to the platform’s steady losses early in its investment. Word of a pending initial public offering has since served to provide some clarity and vindication of the discounter’s investment strategy.

The behemoth upped its stake in Flipkart in July 2020 in a new round of financing, giving the Indian platform a valuation of $24.9 billion. That was followed by a $3.6 billion round of financing in July 2021. Speculation that an IPO was in the works surfaced two months before the most recent financing, and the thinking was that an offering could raise Flipkart’s valuation to as much as $50 billion.

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With a delay in the U.S. public listing that was planned for this year, Walmart can take the time to boost valuations by focusing on the growth of its online healthcare services and travel bookings. That could push Flipkart’s IPO valuation to between $60 billion to $70 billion by the time it actually goes public, according to a story in Reuters.

Walmart’s outgoing CFO Brett Biggs—he’s set to depart on Jan. 31, 3023— maintained in December that a Flipkart IPO remains a possibility. The discounter had planned to take Flipkart public within four years of its acquisition in 2018, but that was before the Covid-19 pandemic which altered plans for many.