SoftBank Joins Two Gulf Wealth Funds for Debut Turkey Investment

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Trendyol, a Turkish e-commerce company backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., raised $1.5 billion in its latest financing round that included SoftBank Group Corp. and two Gulf wealth funds.

The capital raise, co-led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 and General Atlantic, vaulted the Istanbul-based firm to a $16.5 billion valuation, according to an emailed statement from the company. The announcement confirmed a Bloomberg News report in July on Trendyol’s plans. 

Qatar Investment Authority, Abu Dhabi sovereign fund ADQ and Princeville Capital also joined the round. It marked SoftBank’s first investment in Turkey.

“The funding proceeds will support Trendyol’s growth both within Turkey and internationally,” said Demet Mutlu, the company’s founder and chief executive officer. “In particular, Trendyol will continue its investment in nationwide infrastructure, technology and logistics, accelerate digitalization of Turkish SMEs.”

The e-commerce company has benefited from a surge in online buying in Turkey, which jumped 66% last year, according to the trade ministry. Trendyol’s gross merchandise value, a measure of the products it sells on its platform, has grown by about 20 times in the past three years and is on track to hit $10 billion this year, people familiar with the company said in April. 

The company may sell shares in two years through an initial public offering, the people said at the time.

E-Commerce, Payments

“Trendyol seamlessly integrates e-commerce, payments and delivery, with deep industry expertise in sectors such as fashion, with a unique consumer offer that we believe will be highly scalable across new markets and geographies,” said Anthony Doeh, partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers, which manages the Japanese conglomerate’s Vision Fund 2.

The funding round made Trendyol Turkey’s only “decacorn” with a valuation of more than $10 billion. The company hit $9.4 billion in value earlier this year when its top stakeholder, Alibaba, invested $350 million, according to the country’s commercial registry. 

Borsa Istanbul’s most valuable company, steelmaker Eregli Demir ve Celik Fabrikalari AS, has a market capitalization of about $8.4 billion.

Tech companies in Turkey have attracted more international investment in the past year, pushing valuations higher. Hepsiburada, Trendyol’s main rival in Turkey, was valued at $3.9 billion in its initial public offering on Nasdaq earlier in July. Zynga Inc. bought game-maker Peak for $1.8 billion last year, and Getir, a quick grocery delivery app, fetched a $7.6 billion valuation in its latest investment round from private equity firms in June.

Citigroup Inc. is the sole financial adviser and placement agent for Trendyol in the transaction, according to the statement.

Mutlu, a Harvard Business School dropout, founded the company in 2010. Trendyol has become Turkey’s largest e-commerce marketplace platform with 34% of the market, according to Euromonitor data. Hepsiburada controls 11% and n11.com has 8.3%, followed by EBay Inc.’s GittiGidiyor unit with 4.4%.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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