By Eric Auchard
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Foodpanda, an online take-away food delivery company active in dozens of emerging markets, said it had raised $60 million in new financing from a group of investors including existing backer Rocket Internet AG.
Foodpanda, one of a stable of ecommerce and financial services ventures created by Berlin-based Rocket Internet, is in a global race to stake out the highly local food take-away market, an online segment that has featured two high-profile share listings this year and big investments by U.S. and European venture firms.
The latest financing marks the third sizeable round of investment for foodpanda, which has raised a little over $100 million since it was founded in 2012, said Ralf Wenzel, co-founder and chief executive of foodpanda.
Added funding will help foodpanda deepen penetration of its existing Asian, African, Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Latin American markets before a variety of publicly traded or otherwise well financed rivals can enter them.
Major players in the online food take-away ordering business include publicly listed GrubHub, which has popularized the category since its founding in 2004 and now offers menus from 250,000 restaurants in 500 U.S. cities.
Just-Eat, London's biggest technology listing in recent years, is the dominant online food delivery player in Britain and Denmark, where it was founded in 2001, but it has less of a presence to date in eight other European markets and Brazil and India, where it has also set up shop.
In much of Europe, the largest player is Berlin-based Delivery Hero, founded in 2011, which is active in 20 markets across five continents and has raised $285 million in funding to date. It counts 60,000 restaurants as customers from Germany to Latin America to China and India.
501 CITIES, OVER 30,000 RESTAURANTS
Foodpanda operates under the hellofood brand in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and as foodpanda in Asia, Eastern Europe and some Commonwealth of Independent States countries.
Recently, foodpanda acquired Russian rival DeliveryClub for undisclosed terms. It continues to operate as DeliveryClub in 19 Russian cities.
In total, foodpanda's three brands operate in 501 cities in 40 countries (http://www.foodpanda.com/). It is run by a central team based in Berlin, which develops the technology and marketing for country managers to run local sales.
It counts as clients more than 30,000 restaurants - small shops and big chains such as 7-11 and Yum Brands' KFC - which pay a commission on each order processed by foodpanda units. Delivery is free to dining customers.
Berlin-based Rocket Internet is bidding to create the largest internet empire outside the United States and China, seeking to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in markets from Africa to Latin America and Russia.
Active in 100 countries in everything from online shopping to taxi bookings to financial services, Rocket Internet plans an initial public offering later this year that could value it at 3 billion to 5 billion euros ($4 billion-$6.7 billion).
Falcon Edge Management, a New York-based global hedge fund launched in 2012 with $1.2 billion in assets, is another major backer of foodpanda and contributed to its latest financing round.
In 2013, foodpanda secured more than $20 million in funding from Phenomen Ventures and Investment AB Kinnevik, and $8 million from iMENA Holdings. It received $20 million from a group of investors, including Phenomen, in February of 2014.
(1 US dollar = 0.7459 euro)
(editing by Jane Baird)