(March 23): Tata Group is considering injecting another US$2 billion (RM8.84 billion) of fresh capital into its super app venture, as the salt-to-software conglomerate seeks to bolster its digital business, according to people familiar with the matter.
Tata Digital Pvt Ltd will receive the additional funding over two years should a deal proceed, the people said. The fresh capital could help online platform Tata Neu, which went live last April, to strengthen its digital offerings, fix technical glitches and meet any new spending needs, one of the people said.
Tata Group has asked Tata Digital to look for ways to boost the valuation of the super app, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing information that is private. Deliberations are ongoing and the conglomerate could still change the size and timeline of a deal, the people said. Representatives of Tata Group and Tata Digital declined to comment.
Any fresh capital would come as Tata Digital is reviewing its strategy and fending off entrenched e-commerce rivals such as Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart. Tata Neu, India’s first super app since at least mid-2020, was modelled on China’s ubiquitous Alipay and WeChat, but ran into technical glitches and customer complaints, soon after its launch last year. Local heavyweights Reliance Industries Ltd and Adani Group are looking to roll out their own super apps as well.
Tata Neu allows users to buy groceries and gadgets as well as reserve airplane tickets and restaurants from brands under Tata. The app also comes with membership service, and offers financial products such as bill payments, loans and insurance.
Tata Neu is expected to meet just half of the sales target in its debut year. The super app will see sales of about US$4 billion in the year to March 31, compared with the US$8 billion target set at the beginning of 2022, Bloomberg News reported in January.
Tata Group acquired firms including e-grocer Bigbasket and e-pharmacy 1mg to bolster its e-commerce portfolio, investing more than US$2 billion in the past three years. Tata Sons Pvt Ltd, the group’s holding company, explored bringing in financial or strategic investors, including global technology companies, to back the super app, Bloomberg News reported in 2020.