India's Flipkart buys back shares worth $350 million

FILE PHOTO: A Common myna sits next to the logo of India's e-commerce firm Flipkart installed on the company's office in Bengaluru, India April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File Photo

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian online marketplace Flipkart has bought back $350 million worth of shares from its investors as it seeks to convert its Singapore-incorporated company to a private limited firm, in a move that could ease the way in for a new strategic investor.

U.S. retail giant Walmart Inc WMT.N is in advanced talks with Flipkart to acquire a controlling stake of more than 51 percent in the Bengaluru-based e-commerce firm at a valuation of at least $18 billion, sources previously told Reuters.

Flipkart Ltd purchased shares for $350.5 million from some of its investors including Shekhar Kirani of Accel, SoftBank 9984.T executive Deep Nishar's family trust, IDG Ventures and a host of pension funds, according to May 3 regulatory filings from Singapore's Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, sourced by business intelligence platform

It also began the process of converting Flipkart to a private limited company, changing its name to Flipkart Pte Ltd, the filings showed.

Stakeholders in a private limited company are usually bound by a contract and have more flexibility than in a public company.

“Typically strategic investors don’t like to deal with multiple shareholders because it just becomes more cumbersome,” a senior lawyer told Reuters. “So they very often ask companies to clean up the cap table or consolidate small shareholders.”

(This story has been refiled to clarify in paragraph three the investors who sold shares to Flipkart.)

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Edmund Blair and Alexandra Hudson