Paytm parent set to raise $1.9Bn from SoftBank

Paytm parent One97 Communications to raise $1.9Bn from SoftBank
Paytm parent One97 Communications to raise $1.9Bn from SoftBank

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One97 Communications, the owner of electronics payments provider Paytm, is set to raise more than Rs 120 billion ($1.87 billion) from Japan’s SoftBankGroup. The deal will value Noida-based One97 at about $9 billion and provide a 20 percent stake to SoftBank, according to people familiar with the transaction. The deal was agreed on earlier this week and is now waiting for board approval, as per sources

Paytm last raised funding from Taiwanese semiconductor maker MediaTek about eight months ago, when it was valued at $4.8 billion.

Founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma who also owns a license for the payment bank, One97 plans to earmark nearly $1 billion to expand its payments business into high growth areas like lending and insurance. The company recently established a new subsidiary called Paytm Financial Services. The company will also invest in the expansion of its offline payment network. The payment bank operations are awaiting final regulatory approval, said one person aware of the developments.

Earlier this month, India’s largest online retailer Flipkart announced a $1.4-billion funding round from China’s Tencent and American technology corporations -Microsoft and eBay, which valued the Bengaluru-based company at $11.6 billion earlier this month.

The Paytm funding will double the total investment in India by SoftBank.The Masayoshi Son-led group has so far deployed close to $2 billion in a clutch of Indian companies including online marketplace Snapdeal, ride-hailing app Ola, hotel room aggregator OYO, and hyperlocal delivery service Grofers.

The Japanese major, which has set up a $100-billion investment fund, is also in talks to sell Snapdeal, its largest investment in India, to Flipkart and further invest in the combined entity. Separately, SoftBank is also looking to sell payments unit FreeCharge, Flipkart and Paytm are both vying to snap up this business, ET reported earlier this week.

Paytm’s Sharma, who recently entered the TIME’s 100 Most Influential People’ list, said at a press conference on Thursday that it closed fiscal 2017 with threefold growth in total transactions to $1.5 billion. The company has over 200 million wallet users, and is more than double the size of closest competitors like MobiKwik.

The new funding comes as Paytm is building a warchest for its payment operations which faces heightened competition from players like WhatsApp and Flipkart’s Phonepe, which is working with Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent after raising the latest round.Other players like Reliance Jio and Truecaller have also entered the space, besides incumbent banks.

Moreover, One97 plans to earmark nearly $1 billion to expand its payments business into high growth areas like lending and insurance, the report added. Digital payments have assumed great significance in India after the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ban on old high-valued bank notes in November led to a severe cash crunch across the country.
Also Read: Paytm’s journey is now part of Harvard Business School’s curriculum

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