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Freecharge sold to Axis for $60 million: The facts and details

Firm was recently bought by Snapdeal in April 2015 for an estimated $400 mn

Karan Choudhury  |  New Delhi 

FreeCharge

Once the 'crown jewel' of Jasper InfoTech's (parent company of Snapdeal) portfolio, Freecharge, which until last year was the second largest player, has been sold to at almost one-tenth of the price.

According to sources in Freecharge, the deal with Axis Bank, the country's third largest private sector lender has been fixed at between $50 million and $70 million. The Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal led e-commerce firm bought in April 2015, for an estimated $400 million. At that time, it was touted as the largest buyout in the Indian startup ecosystem.

The deal was finalised on Tuesday and the formal announcement would happen on Thursday. integrates has its own running by the name 'Lime' as well.

While has sent out a formal invitation saying that a "strategic announcement" would be made on Thursday, no one could be contacted to confirm the development so far. Both and declined to comment on the issue.

According to sources in the know, that has around 200 employees would be absorbed into However, Jason Kothari, who was recently appointed as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Freecharge, would likely leave after the smooth handover of the company.

While a shift in Freecharge's base of operation to Mumbai remains uncertain, Axis continues functioning from its headquarters in Delhi and Bengaluru. The beleaguered recorded around 12 million transactions in April this year, according to industry analysts.

had been on the block for some time now. According to informed sources, Kothari, was in talks with investors from US and China in an effort to sell it. PayPal was initially interested in making a sizeable investment in but the deal could not be closed.

Kothari was brought into real estate portal Housing.com by Softbank, which held a stake in the firm, after the unceremonious exit of CEO Rahul Yadav. After Housing.com was sold to another portal, PropTiger, Kothari joined in January this year as the chief strategy and investment officer of the company. In March, he was also given charge of as its CEO and board member.

had been in talks with Paytm, PayU, and for a possible stake sale. This sell off to Axis would help start the process of exiting from Snapdeal, one of its biggest investments in If in the next few days Flipkart's acquisition of happens, then the Japanese telecom major would be able to get out of its investments in Jasper Infotech will help exit fully.

In the last six months, has been working towards the biggest consolidation in the Indian e-commerce segment and is trying to hedge its bets with plans to buy stakes in both Tiger Global-backed as well as Alibaba's lead investment in India,

According to sources in Freecharge, acquiring the would give access to about 20 million holders of as well around a million offline and online sellers. However, critics claim that Freecharge's largest user base is recharge customers so the number of big ticket transactions is few and far.

had on Tuesday, reported a 16 percent year-on-year decline in its June 2017 quarter net profit at Rs 1,306 crore. However, the lender said it expects better days ahead as non-performing assets have peaked.


facts

Merchants: 1 million plus

Customers: 20 million

Founded in: 2010

Founders: Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon

Sold to in 2015

Deal value: $400 million

Present CEO: Jason Kothari

Investors: Tandon Group, Sequoia Capital, Sofina and Ru-Net, Tybourne Capital Management, SF-based fund Valiant Capital Management

First Published: Thu, July 27 2017. 09:23 IST
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