Acquisition talks between Axis Bank and Snapdeal-owned FreeCharge have reached the final stages. The Jasper Infotech Board has agreed to sell the digital wallet business FreeCharge to Axis Bank for $60 Mn, a mere 15% of FreeCharge’s $400 Mn sale to Snapdeal in 2015.
This development comes two weeks after reports of Axis Bank holding talks with Jasper Infotech first surfaced. Back then, the acquisition was expected to fetch $100 Mn (INR 625 Cr).
In the past two weeks, Axis Bank has been conducting due diligence on the e-wallet platform. With the FreeCharge acquisition, Axis Bank looks to strengthen its presence in the country’s burgeoning digital payments space.
Founded in 2010 by Sandeep Tandon and Kunal Shah, FreeCharge, once valued at $5 Bn, was acquired by Snapdeal as part of a $400 Mn-$500 Mn deal. In May 2017, parent company Jasper Infotech infused $3.38 Mn (INR 22 Cr) in FreeCharge. Prior to this, in March, Snapdeal made an investment of $20 Mn in the online payment platform.
Speculations about FreeCharge’s acquisition have been doing the rounds for more than six months now. In December 2016, it was reported that PayPal was gearing up to acquire a majority stake in FreeCharge.
After the news of the proposed Flipkart-Snapdeal merger was first made public in March 2017, FreeCharge started actively seeking out buyers. In May 2017, Jasper Infotech was reportedly looking to sell FreeCharge to Bank of Baroda and Times Internet for $60 Mn-$75 Mn.
Other names that came up at the time included rivals Paytm and MobiKwik. In May, Paytm also signed a non-exclusive term sheet with FreeCharge at an expected deal value of $45 Mn – $90 Mn. There were rumours that, if the deal with MobiKwik went through, an undisclosed Chinese investor would pour $200 Mn into the merged entity.
Ecommerce giant Amazon was also reportedly looking to take over the e-wallet platform, as part of its efforts to expand Amazon Pay India. According to sources, Amazon agreed to pay $70 Mn-$80 Mn for the acquisition.
Amidst all the noise, Jasper’s ecommerce firm Snapdeal has also finally accepted Flipkart’s merger offer of $900 Mn-$950 Mn. This will likely put an end to the uncertainty that has been surrounding the fate of Snapdeal, and FreeCharge for the past several months. However, the fate of logistics arm Vulcan Express still remains uncertain.
(The development was reported by TOI)