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If done, this will be among the largest consumer Internet acquisitions in India's nascent digital sector, and show that building utility services that are layers on top of unorganized sectors matter more in countries like India, than flashy apps.

Naspers, the South African media and internet conglomerate which has a global portfolio of digital acquisitions, is now close to another one: it is buying India’s biggest bus booking service, for a reported price of between $100 million to $140 million, according to two reports in Economic Times and NextBigWhat.

The talks are still in advanced stages of negotiation, and it may involve a majority stake, not outright acquisition. Earlier this year reports came out that ReBus was trying to raie $20 million from private equity, but looks like it led to these sale talks. Last year Naspers took a stake in India’s largest ecommerce site Flipkart.

RedBus was founded in 2006, and grew to be the largest bus ticketing site in horrendously unorganized sector in the country. It says it is now selling 10 million tickets every year, with gross sales nearing $200 million annually. Bangalore-based Pilani Soft Labs, the holding company of Redbus, has raised about $10 million in three rounds of funding so far, from investors such as Helion Venture Partners, SeedFund and Inventus Capital.

From MediaNama, on Naspers’ travel investments in India:

If this acquisition turns out to be true, it will probably strengthen [Nasper India’s] online travel ticketing venture Goibibo which already offers bus ticketing services along with flight and hotel reservation services. Last year, MIH Group had acquired 51% stake in the Gurgaon-based travel company Tek Travels, which owned a B2B travel portal Travel Boutique Online, which provided white label solutions for agents to offer B2B and B2C travel bookings online.


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