Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma will acquire a 10.3% stake from China’s Ant Group Co., in an unusual transaction that will make the entrepreneur the company’s single biggest shareholder without paying any cash.
Sharma, also chief executive officer of Paytm-parent One97 Communications Ltd., will increase his holding in the Indian fintech company to 19.42% while Ant’s drops to 13.5%, according to a regulatory filing. Ant gets convertible securities that will give it the option to recoup its stake in the future. That means it can raise its holding back to above 23% at a later date, potentially benefiting if Paytm’s stock price rises, however, the company didn’t specify a timeframe for exercising that option.
For now, the deal reduces a large overhang on the market as investors had bet that Ant, the Chinese fintech pioneer backed by billionaire Jack Ma, would eventually offload a chunk of its Paytm shares. By taking control, Sharma also addresses concerns that a prominent Chinese company is running one of India’s best-known tech firms, at a time tensions between the two countries are rising.