The strange pattern of OYO’s incomplete transactions31 October 2019.Believe me, when I say this, I will be the happiest when I don’t have to chase OYO’s tail. But right now, it is simply not okay to look away from unfinished business. First, Ritesh Agarwal’s Cayman Islands buyback deal. From Business Standard in July this year:
“Hospitality firm OYO on Friday said its founder Ritesh Agarwal has signed a deal to buy back shares worth $2 billion from early investors through his Cayman islands-registered entity, RA Hospitality Holdings. Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia India, OYO's early supporters, are selling part of their holdings in order to help the founder increase his stake while remaining invested significantly in the company's long-term mission, OYO said in a statement. ‘Company's founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal, through RA Hospitality Holdings (Cayman), has signed $2 billion primary and secondary management investment round, supported by global institutional banks and his financial partners,’ it added.”
Multiple sources I spoke with, who have all been following this transaction closely, said the deal hasn’t happened.
There were bids from the who’s who of global investment firms.
At the top of the list were The Carlyle Group, KKR & Co. and TA Associates, as well as Norwegian food company Orkla Foods. The target was Kolkata-based spice and condiments company Sunrise Foods—a business almost seven decades old, owned by a bunch of family members who wanted to call it quits and pursue their individual ambitions.
The process went on for months, coordinated by investment bank JM Financial. And about a couple of months ago, the Indian conglomerate ITC Group took Sunrise home. The valuation hasn’t been disclosed but the ballpark figure is upwards of Rs 2,000 crore.
Sunrise Foods is not an isolated example where investors emerged in flocks to buy a regional business like this.
There shouldn’t be any ambiguity about this. This story in particular is an exploration on the subject of consolidation, which for the most part has been playing out in India’s foodtech business.
For almost the whole of last year, there have been constant rumours and reports of constant conversations between Zomato, one of the oldest foodtech companies in India, going back almost a decade, and Swiggy, the Bengaluru-based delivery startup, which for the last five years or so has been the country’s most promising food delivery company.