Paytm, the provider of a mobile payment and ecommerce platform, is reportedly in talks to raise somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion from Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank (TKO: 9984). The fresh funds could value the 7-year-old company at as much as $8 billion, up from a reported $5.1 billion valuation it reached last year.
The investment would reportedly be one of the largest investments ever made by a single backer into an Indian startup. It would also make SoftBank one of the largest shareholders in Paytm, a development that would reduce the stake of Alibaba, a Chinese ecommerce giant, in the company. Reports from Indian media suggest that a move from Chinese to Japanese majority ownership would ease government concerns about a Chinese company having hold of a finance startup.
SoftBank recently established a massive $100 billion vehicle called the Vision Fund, though it’s not clear whether the round for Paytm would come from the new fund or from the company itself.
Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s founder and CEO, has reportedly said he plans to invest $10 billion in India. The investment in Paytm would add to SoftBank’s list of investments into Indian companies and indicate that the company is making good on its plans. SoftBank invested in ridehailing company Ola in late February, and it has previously invested in online marketplace Snapdeal.
Rumors have also emerged that SoftBank may be investing in Paytm to merge it with Snapdeal. But just about a week ago, reports indicated that Snapdeal and rival online marketplace Flipkart were in talks to merge in an attempt to compete with Amazon for the Indian market share. Either way, it appears there’s some consolidation on the way for some of India’s biggest startups.
Article by Kate Clark, PitchBook