Deals Buzz: Cognizant in deal with Elliott to return $3.4 billion to shareholders

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Construction company Montecarlo Ltd is in the process of restructuring its business as part of a plan to go public next year, two people aware of the development told Mint.

The restructuring will see the company separate its real estate business and merge all other engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services into the parent company to simplify its structure, said one of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to reporters.

Montecarlo, founded in 1995, offers services across infrastructure projects such as highways, roads, irrigation, water supply, mining, power transmission and distribution, building and urban infrastructures.

MobiKwik in talks to raise more funds

Mobile payments and digital wallet firm MobiKwik, which has raised about $80 million in funding so far, is holding discussion to raise more funds at a level that would give the start-up a $1 billion valuation, as it pushes to forge new ties with banks and offer new financial services on its platform.

The company will likely see new cash infusion in the next month or two, founder and chief executive Bipin Preet Singh said Wednesday, declining to comment on how big an equity stake the company might be offering to sell.

When asked about MobiKwik’s valuation, Singh said, “We should be touching a billion (dollars) soon… in the next one or two months.” He declined to comment on which parties MobiKwik is in talks with or how much money was being sought.

Voonik raises $6 million funds from Sequoia, RB Investments

Start-up Voonik Technologies Pvt. Ltd, owner of the Voonik fashion app, has secured $6 million (Rs40 crore) from Singapore-based RB Investments and existing investor Sequoia Capital, two people aware of the development said.

The latest round is a follow-on to its Series B round of $20 million in July, led by Sequoia Capital, said one of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity. Other investors in Voonik’s previous round included Times Internet, Seedfund, Beenos, Beenext, Parkwood Bespin, Tancom Investments and Freecharge’s Kunal Shah.

The company had raised a $5 million Series A round of funding from Sequoia India and early-stage investment fund Seedfund in 2015.

Axilor looks to double the size of incubator programme

Early-stage venture investor Axilor Ventures is looking to double the intake of start-ups for its 100-day accelerator programme—it has so far nurtured 30 start-ups since it started operating in late 2014 and has invested in about 20 early-stage ventures.

That would indicate that Axilor will invest in over two dozen start-ups at least this year—last year it had said it would back about 12-15 start-ups.

Axilor, which was launched by technology industry veterans led by Infosys co-founders Kris Gopalakrishnan and S.D. Shibulal, typically supports start-ups from launch to scale, typically investing up to Rs3 crore for a minority stake; it has bet on sectors such as consumer internet, healthcare technology and fin-tech.

Axilor has invested in nearly two dozen early-stage start-ups and ventures, including Easyfix, healthcare start-up MUrgency, PaySay and UrbanPiper.

Adani gets CCI nod for Reliance Infra’s power transmission projects in Gujarat, Maharashtra

Adani Transmission Ltd (ATL) has received approval from the Competition Commission of India to acquire Reliance Infrastructure Ltd’s western region power transmission projects in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The fair trade regulator announced its approval in a posting on Twitter. ATL will acquire Reliance Infrastructure’s Western Region System Strengthening Scheme power transmission assets of about 3,100 circuit km at an enterprise value of Rs1,000 crore.

Reliance Infrastructure owns India’s first private sector transmission projects—WRSSS B and WRSSS C—located in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

Cognizant in deal with Elliott; to return $3.4 billion to shareholders

IT services provider Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. has decided to hire three new directors and return $3.4 billion to shareholders, bowing to pressure from activist investor Elliott Management Corp.

Elliott disclosed a more than 4% stake in Cognizant in November and had urged the firm to consider shaking up its board as one of several steps to boost shareholder value. Cognizant’s shares were up about 3% at $55.50 in pre-market trading on Wednesday.

Cognizant said its board has approved a plan to return $3.4 billion to shareholders over the next two years through share buybacks and dividend.

Elliott and Cognizant would nominate one director each before the company’s annual meeting in June, Cognizant said. The firm will also appoint another new director before its 2018 annual meeting, subject to Elliott’s consent.

Kumar Mangalam Birla may head Vodafone-Idea merged entity

Details emerging of initial stage of discussion between telecommunication majors Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd indicate that Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla could be chairman of the merged entity.

Two people familiar with the talks between the two said the merged entity would likely have 12 directors on its board—three from either side and six independent ones. Neither wished to be identified because the talks are at a very preliminary stage.

An Idea spokesperson declined to comment. Spokespersons for Vodafone India and its parent Vodafone Group Plc did not respond to emails seeking comment. A spokesperson for the Aditya Birla Group said that any talk of appointments is premature.

Nasdaq-listed Nuance Communication buys Noida-based mCarbon Tech for $36 million

Voice and speech recognition company Nuance Communications has bought Noida-based mobile value-add services venture mCarbon Tech Innovations in a cash-and-stock transaction for somewhere about $36 million (Rs240 crore),

The deal is the latest example of consolidation taking place in the Indian start-up ecosystem, which is expected to see an increasing number of buyouts over the next 12 months, even as risk capital investors continue to realign their portfolios, and search for exits, the paper said.

Founded in 2008 by Rajesh Razdan, mCarbon Tech Innovations, which started off focusing on core network value add services, provides innovative revenue uplift and customer value management products for telecom operators.