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SoftBank keen to invest $1 Bn in Ola, founders resist


The latest reports in the Indian startup ecosystem say that Softbank owner Masayoshi Son has been in several meetings with Ola cofounder Bhavish Aggarwal in recent days.

As per ET’s sources, Son has shown a keen interest in investing $1 billion in the ride-hailing firm, keeping in perspective how the latter is aggressively expanding its food tech platform foodpanda.

It is no secret that Softbank has been looking to invest in the Indian foodtech space for a long time and has also hired Sumer Juneja as India head to lead the process.

Ola is further looking to foray into the e-pharmacy segment looking at it as a fast-growing opportunity as compared to its slowed down growth in the core business of cab aggregation.

However, the deal is facing hindrance and hesitation from Aggarwal. Softbank already holds 26 per cent worth stake in the company and is eyeing to increase that number by 10-15 per cent. Aggarwal, on the other hand, does not wish to recede the control to Japanese tech investor.

Aggarwal is also looking to involve other investors in this round to restrict the increasing stakes of Softbank. It already has assured investments from Sachin Bansal and existing investor Steadview Capital for about $200-250 million. Temasek is also slated to invest in the ongoing round.

Two years ago, Aggarwal had declined the same offer for the same reasons. Later, Softbank had tried to buy out Tiger Global’s shares last year without the involvement of the co-founders.

Since then Aggarwal led Ola has been protecting the company by adding policies against such incidents, and the co-founder himself has been adding allies to the board – Temasek, Bansal – to safeguard his voting rights.

Going further, it remains to be seen how much the Son led company is finally able to invest in the ride-hailing major, and how much Aggarwal’s moves to recede control with himself and his allies fructify.

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