Tiger Global gets exit option with Titan’s CaratLane deal

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Bengaluru: The move by Titan Co. Ltd to acquire a majority stake in jewellery start-up CaratLane Trading Pvt. Ltd will provide a much-needed exit to New York-based investment firm Tiger Global Management, the country’s most prolific start-up investor that has seen some of its bets sour over the past six months or so.

Titan on Friday announced that it will pick up a majority stake in CaratLane and will pay cash to buy the shares.

Since starting out in 2008, CaratLane raised more than $50 million from Tiger Global, which is also an investor in the likes of Flipkart, Ola, ShopClues, Freshdesk and many other Indian start-ups.

“The exact details will be out later but I can say that they are making money and moving out, and that this is the right thing for the business at this point,” said Mithun Sancheti, co-founder and chief executive of CaratLane.

Over the past decade, Tiger Global, which picks up stakes in both public and private firms, has become one of the most renowned e-commerce and tech investors around the world, having held stakes in companies such as China’s Alibaba Group Holdings and Facebook Inc.

Unlike traditional venture capital firms, Tiger Global doesn’t shy away from betting huge amounts of cash on individual companies and has a more flexible and aggressive investment strategy.

Tiger Global has invested more than $1.6 billion in Indian start-ups over the past two years and more than $2 billion since the late 2000s when it first became active in the country, according to Mint research.

The past few months, however, have been tough for start-ups including some of Tiger Global’s portfolio companies.

Two of Tiger Global’s high-profile investments of last year, services provider LocalOye and budget hotel brand Zo Rooms, are struggling to survive. Tiger Global, whose private investments are led by Lee Fixel, also helped arrange the distress sale of real estate site CommonFloor to Quikr (another Tiger portfolio firm) in January.

Even Tiger’s biggest-ever investment, Flipkart, has seen its value marked down by as many as four of its other investors.

While Tiger has pumped in massive amounts into Indian start-ups its only notable exits have been MakeMyTrip and Just Dial, which went public earlier this decade.