A formal complaint has been filed against Ventureast by PhonePe and SEBI (market regulator) on Saturday. Claiming that Affle’s “side transactions” with PhonePe constitute a “deliberate bad faith endeavor” to sabotage PhonePe’s majority purchase of OSLabs.
With an all transaction worth USD 60 million, it was in the air that PhonePe owned by Walmart is in further preparations to buy a controlling share in Indus Os, an indigenous content and app discovery platform.
It presently owns roughly 32% of OSLabs after purchasing shares from a number of investors, including Omidyar Network, JSW Ventures, Micromax, and 19 other angels.
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PhonePe’s complaint to SEBI against Ventureast “relates to multiple violations of SEBI’s code of conduct in relation to Ventureast Proactive Fund-II (VPFrecent )’s side dealings with Affle, which are a deliberate bad faith attempt to scuttle PhonePe’s majority acquisition of OSLabs,” according to a statement released on Saturday. IndusOS and Affle did not make any response to emails received to Ventureast and IndusOS did not respond to emails forwarded to Ventureast.
PhonePe further added that it has “highlighted serious misrepresentations, including a series of unethical and bad faith actions, as well as potentially illegal actions, that have been and are being continually undertaken by the Managing Partner, General Partner and Principal of VPF involved with this transaction” in its complaint to the market regulator.
PhonePe has sued Ventureast and Affle in Singapore, according to the statement. By continuing to engage PhonePe and OSLabs on the sale of VPF’s interests in OSLabs in favor of PhonePe, the complaint argues that VPF “deliberately mislead” PhonePe, despite the fact that it had sold those identical shares to Affle in a secret deal without OSLabs’ or PhonePe’s awareness throughout a legally enforceable no-shop period on a previous date.
“While the legal matters will be settled in court, PhonePe has now approached SEBI to look into these gross ethical violations and dereliction of VPF’s fiduciary duties to protect the interests of OSLabs, its investee company,” PhonePe said.
“I believe in this case, VPF has not only broken SEBI’s code of conduct, but it has also acted in complete negligence of its fiduciary duties as a large shareholder of IndusOS. By deliberately derailing PhonePe’s acquisition of IndusOS, a deal which all three OSLabs founders continue to also believe is in their company’s best long-term interests, VPF has also hurt OSLabs’ long-term interests,” he said. Nigam expressed confidence that the company will prevail on both fronts, and added that “hopefully in the process also create a strong deterrent against bad actors trying to bully young startups”.