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SoftBank, Ant Group Likely to Sell Paytm Stakes via Block Deal: Report

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China’s Ant and Japan’s SoftBank are likely to offload their stakes in Indian digital payments firm Paytm in the open market, after talks with Bharti Airtel founder failed, the Economic Times reported.

Shareholders and investment banks representing Ant and Softbank had earlier approached Bharti Airtel founder-chairman Sunil Mittal with an offer to sell their stakes in One 97 Communications, which owns Paytm, according to the report on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Ant is the largest shareholder in the firm, with about 25 percent stake and SoftBank owns around 13 percent, the report added.

Paytm has been under pressure to turn profitable ever since its dismal listing in late 2021, and its shares have tumbled below its initial public offering prices, as global backers sold shares in the company.

China’s Alibaba Group earlier this month exited Paytm by selling its remaining stake in Paytm for about Rs. 1,378 crore. SoftBank had also previously sold a 4.5 percent stake in Paytm through block deals for about $200 million (roughly Rs. 16,580 crore).

Alibaba’s exit came days after Paytm posted its first-ever quarterly operating profit as a listed firm, nine months ahead of its own target. Singapore E-Commerce sold 21.4 million shares of Paytm at Rs. 642.74 apiece, a 9 percent discount to Thursday’s close, NSE stock exchange data showed. Morgan Stanley Asia (Singapore) Pte bought 5.42 million shares of Paytm at Rs. 640, the data showed.

The talks with Mittal didn’t make much headway and Bharti is not currently engaged in conversations on this issue, the ET report added.

SoftBank, Ant Group, Paytm, and Bharti Airtel did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comments.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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