SoftBank, Ant seek to sell Paytm stake via open market – ET

(Reuters) -China’s Ant Group and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp are seeking to sell their stakes in Indian digital payments firm Paytm in the open market, the Economic Times reported on Monday.

The companies had earlier approached Bharti Airtel founder-chairman Sunil Mittal to sell their stakes in Paytm’s parent One 97 Communications, but those talks did not make much headway, ET reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

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

A secondary sale to financial investors in the open market through a block deal is, however, still a possibility, the Economic Times reported.

Ant has a nearly 25% stake in Paytm, while SoftBank owns about 13%, according to exchange data.

Paytm has been under pressure to turn profitable ever since its dismal listing in late 2021.

Its shares have tumbled about 70% below their IPO price of 2,150 rupees as lofty valuations of loss-making tech firms come under scrutiny amid volatility in the financial markets.

China’s Alibaba Group earlier this month exited Paytm by selling its remaining stake in the company for about 13.78 billion rupees ($166.20 million). SoftBank had also previously sold a 4.5% stake in Paytm through block deals for about $200 million.

Paytm’s shares rose 1.5% to 632.90 rupees as of 1:47 p.m. IST.

($1 = 82.8750 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Mrinmay Dey and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Nivedita Bhattacharjee)

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