US billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc is expected to pick up a stake in One97 Communications Ltd, the parent of India’s leading mobile-phone payment platform Paytm.
The two companies have been in talks since early February to raise about 2.5 billion rupees (US$350 million) at a valuation of about $10-12 billion, Mint newspaper reported.
The deal, likely to be announced in two weeks, will be Berkshire Hathaway’s first investment in the country’s thriving startups. It would also reportedly be the company’s first investment in a privately-held technology company in the world.
Paytm already has already roped in globally renowned investors such as Japan’s SoftBank Group, China’s Alibaba Group and Ant Financial.
Paytm claims to have touched $4 billion in monthly gross transaction value, with the number of transactions touching a peak of 1.3 billion in the quarter till the end of June, the daily added. The company recently claimed that 50% of its users reside in India’s smaller towns.
Founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma in 2000, One97 started out as mobile payments and mobile recharge business and currently ranks among the top three consumer internet companies in the country. The company has created a host of payment solutions where consumers can transact via the Paytm digital wallet and Paytm Payments Bank.
Over the last two years, Paytm has also aggressively built its e-commerce marketplace by selling consumer goods, apparel, footwear, smartphones, bus tickets and movie tickets.
Paytm saw a rapid rise in its user base when the Indian government banned high-value currency notes in November 2016. As cash became scarce, digital wallets were the simplest answer and people flocked to this alternative.