SoftBank-Backed Paytm Targets Record $2.2 Billion India IPO

An advertising balloon for PayTM is displayed at a a general store in Ooty, Tamil Nadu. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

SoftBank-Backed Paytm Targets Record $2.2 Billion India IPO

Paytm, the Indian digital payments pioneer backed by SoftBank Group Corp., is seeking approval for a $2.2 billion initial public offering that could be India’s largest.

The startup backed also by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. plans to raise as much as 166 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) from its share sale. The IPO will include an equal amount of new and secondary shares, according to a Draft Red Herring Prospectus filed with the regulator on Friday.

Formally called One97 Communications Ltd., Paytm hopes to tap the same strong investor demand that’s propping up fellow unicorn Zomato Ltd.’s hugely popular share sale. That’s despite the company reporting Friday a 10% drop in revenue during the year ended March 2021, after intensifying competition from Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart and Amazon.com Inc. cut its e-commerce and cloud sales by the same amount. Its core payment and financial services arm, however, grew 11%.

Paytm hopes to capitalize on the rising popularity among investors of internet-based consumer companies, after the pandemic fueled the worldwide adoption of digital technologies. Blackrock Inc. and Fidelity International Ltd. were among the dozens of anchor investors that piled into Zomato’s float, resulting in the company receiving about 35 times more bids than it had expected to sell, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier.

Zomato and Paytm are coming to a market already enjoying blockbuster listings for a few months. About $5.6 billion has been raised in initial public offerings on Indian stock exchanges so far in 2021, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. UBS Group AG expects the annual tally to be more than double last year’s $4.6 billion.

Paytm was last valued at $16 billion, according to researcher CB Insights. If it hits its target, the IPO would be the country’s largest stock market debut ever, surpassing the more than 150 billion rupees raised during the debut of state-owned Coal India Ltd.

Banks including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. are running the share sale. Paytm may consider a pre-IPO placement of up to 20 billion rupees, it said.

Paytm, led by founder and Chief Executive Officer Vijay Shekhar Sharma, has been focusing on ramping up revenue and monetizing its services over the past year. It’s expanded beyond digital payments into banking, credit cards, financial services, wealth management and digital wallets. It also supports India’s financial payments backbone, the Unified Payments Interface or UPI. Its Paytm Mall, however, has in past years steadily ceded share to Flipkart and Amazon, which are aggressively courting merchants and buyers.

In fintech, Paytm has fended off stiff competition from a swath of global players including Walmart-owned PhonePe, Google Pay, Amazon Pay as well as Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp Pay. It still has the biggest market share of India’s merchant payments, with over 20 million merchant partners in its network. Its users make 1.4 billion monthly transactions, according to numbers in a recent company blogpost.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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