Paytm in talks to take over Alibaba-backed UCWeb’s Indian arm
India’s leading digital payments company Paytm has held discussions with Alibaba owned UCWeb to acquire its India business, as reported by Economic Times.
The transaction is expected to be worth around ₹2,944 crores to ₹3,680 crores ($400 million to $500 million), according to the people aware of the development. The reports have not been confirmed either by Paytm or Alibaba. It is to be noted that last year, UC Browser surpassed Google Chrome to emerge as the largest web browser in India, capturing 51% of the market. The browser has a monthly active user base of more than 13 crores.
As per the reports, For Paytm, the discussions are been led by Madhur Deora, CFO of Paytm. Earlier there were reports of UCWeb holding discussions with local smartphone makers in India for a potential buyout deal, but those discussions seem to have stalled.
If the acquisition materializes, it will further expand Softbank-backed Paytm’s business to new domains, enabling it to use the browser directly, to dig deeper into the non-metro cities, acquiring the first generation internet users there.
This move could be aimed at the targeting the next wave of internet users that are going to come from smaller towns, using their smartphones, owing to a deeper internet penetration achieved by the network providers. It is also to be noted that in August 2018, One97 Communications and Alibaba-owned AGTechHoldings, had invested ₹110 crores in Gamepind, a joint venture of Paytm and AGTech Holdings.
Paytm has been actively expanding its business, both domestic as well as globally, striking a balance between achieving deeper penetration and exploring growth opportunities overseas. Last month, Paytm’s parent company One97 Communications had approved ₹2,180 crore investment by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathway, filling the coffers of the Indian unicorn.
Paytm had also launched its wealth management platform Paytm Money, to enable its users to buy and sell mutual funds seamlessly. In July 2018, Paytm had partnered with Softbank and Yahoo’s joint venture PayPay Corporation, to venture into the Japan market.