Ant Financial secures right to become the largest shareholder in Zomato

ASIA – Zomato’s newest investor and an affiliate company of the Chinese Alibaba Group, Ant Financial has received the right to become the biggest shareholder in the restaurant search and discovery service, reports ET Retail.

The agreement gives Ant Financial greater say in company operations compared to other stakeholders even as the Chinese firm seeks to expand presence in India.

It also grants it the right of approval to expansion and partnerships in strategic areas such as payments, online-to-offline (O2O) services and ecommerce.

Based on its updated Articles of Association documents, shares for Ant Financial can also be subscribed to by its parent firm, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba.

This is part of Ant Financial’s US$200 million investment in Zomato in February and the right is valid for 1-3 years since that investment round’s closure.

The investment included buying 6.66% of Zomato’s stake for US$50 million from Indian e-commerce and online classifieds company Info Edge India Ltd, and a definitive agreement to invest approximately US$150 million in Zomato.

While Info Edge has 31% stake in Zomato, Ant Financial holds 20-22% and the development gives it the right to subscribe to the shares at “fair price” and in stages.

Zomato cofounders Pankaj Chaddah and Deepinder Goyal, who recently exited the company, together own 14-15% stake.

Zomato will have to restructure its operations in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia within 180 days if legal or regulatory issues prevent it from doing business with Ant Financial or its affiliates in those geographies.

These rights are specific to Ant Financial and are over and above the rights held by Zomato’s other investors, including Info Edge, Sequoia and Temasek.

The Times of India report revealed that Zomato is in talks with multiple investors including Ant Financial and Chinese online travel agent Ctrip to raise about US$400 million as competition with Swiggy intensifies.

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