Prosus saw India investments plunge to $75 mn in pandemic year

Prosus saw India investments plunge to $75 mn in pandemic year
22 Jun, 2021

Prosus, the Euronext listed entity that holds South African conglomerate Naspers’ global internet assets, invested just about $75 million in India during financial year 2020-2021 (FY21), a fraction of the $500 million it put to work in the previous year. 

The Prosus portfolio in India includes leading consumer internet bets such as edtech Byju’s, food delivery platform Swiggy, social commerce player Meesho and logistics company ElasticRun.  

While the pandemic in the last financial year seems to have slowed down its investment run here, it has made a strong recovery in the current year. It has already deployed $793 million in less than three months during the financial year 2021-22 (FY22) in new and follow-on rounds.  

Responding to queries from TechCircle, a company spokesperson said Prosus makes investments when it makes sense to do so for its strategy and as the right opportunities arise. Further, the spokesperson said, that the numbers (from its annual earnings report) reflect publicly disclosed investment in companies in which it holds minority stakes and does not include the investments made in its existing business verticals in India which include OLX in the classifieds space and payments entity, PayU or unannounced investments in portfolio companies.

The company in its annual report for FY21 said India is its second largest market in terms of capital allocation, after China.  

The $75 million invested during FY21 includes the group’s $15 million investment in full-stack agricultural services provider for farmers DeHaat, as part of a fundraise January this year, and a $60 million investment in a Series D round raised by executive education programme platform Eruditus Learning Solutions in September last year.  

Investments rebounded after the close of the financial year on March 31, 2021. The group invested nearly $793 million in India in the first quarter of FY22, between April 1, 2021, and June 19, 2021. 

These include home services platform Urban Company, in which it picked up a 4% stake on a fully diluted basis for an investment of $84 million, and a $191 million infusion into API Holdings which owns and operates epharmacy player Pharmeasy.  

Other investments during the period include existing portfolio companies -- Swiggy, where it has invested $273 million, logistics platform Elastic Run, social commerce platform Meesho and edtech platform, BYJU’s

In terms of sector-wise performance across foodtech, payments, edtech and ecommerce, the greatest impact was felt by foodtech and payments in India.  

As part of its annual report, Prosus said that Swiggy’s revenue contribution grew by a modest 2% for the financial year ending March 31, 2021, but it managed to reduce its trading losses by 59%. “After restrictions eased during the year, the market gradually recovered. GMV was at 100% of pre-Covid-19 levels by December 2020,” said the director’s report.  

The group’s payments unit PayU for which India is its primary market, benefitted overall from the adoption of online payments due to the pandemic, though it faced hiccups initially as the national lockdown and restrictions came into play.  

“With the hard lockdown in India early in the year, we initially saw a 35% decline in volumes, then a sizeable recovery, and we achieved a 42% increase (in local currency terms),” said the report. PayU claims to process more than 800 million payment transactions in India with a total value of $26.6 billion. 

“We have set the ambitious goal of building a US$1.5bn loan book and a profitable combined credit entity over the next five years by combining PaySense and LazyPay. This would make us the largest digital lender in the country,” said the report.