BharatPe raises $75bn in Series C funding round. PayPal to launch UPI payments service in India. US President Donald Trump arrives on his first official state visit to India. PepsiCo to buy Chinese snack brand Be & Cheery for $705m.
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New Delhi-based fintech platform BharatPe has raised $75m in a Series-C financing round led by New York-headquartered hedge fund Coatue Management and existing investor Ribbit Capital, valuing the company at $400m.
The round also saw participation from VC firm Amplo and existing investors Steadview Capital and Insight Partners.
Proceeds from the round would be used to facilitate working capital for its merchant partners. [TechCrunch]
Welcome to India
Global remittance services provider PayPal is now planning to enter UPI-based payments services in India - after more than two years of launching its operations in the country. PayPal currently offers Indians the facility of transferring money to international bank accounts and paying at select merchant sites within the country.
PayPal is reportedly in the last leg to roll out a peer-to-peer (P2P) digital payments service and it may go live in the coming months.
The move will pit PayPal against the likes of Paytm, Google Pay, PhonePe and WhatsApp Pay (which recently obtained the NPCI's approval for a phased roll-out). [BS]
Paytm expects to turn profitable after two years as it is monetising the existing customer base and eyes financial services as its next major frontier for growth, said its Founder CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
The digital payment giant is betting on financial services, commerce and payments as three key focus areas.
In an interview with PTI, Sharma said Paytm's growth is divided into three phases - first three years of finding the right product-market fit; the next was revenue and monetisation; and the last phase will be about profitability and free cash flows. [Deccan Herald]
The Rough Road Ahead
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), had in August last year, announced plans to sell its 20% stake in its chemicals and refining business to Saudi Arabian oil giant Saudi Aramco in a $15bn deal. It also announced the 49% stake sale in the company's network of petrol pumps and aviation fuel facilities to UK's BP.
The deals were expected to generate an inflow of ?1.15Lcr ($20.8bn) and were part of Ambani's plans to make the company a zero-net debt firm in 18 months by March 31st 2021.
However, Ambani's plan to make Reliance Industries debt-free by 2021 hit a massive roadblock when the Government filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking to block RIL's plans of selling a 20% stake in its oil-to-chemicals (O2C) business to Saudi Aramco.
The deal, if it doesn't go through, would threaten a key source of funds needed by Reliance to pare liabilities. To top this, Reliance Industries is now facing unfriendly tax proposals that could hit its businesses.
Trump in India
US President Donald Trump is on an official visit to India. He is accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump and a 12-member official delegation that includes the Commerce Secretary, National Security Advisor, and Advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
While there aren’t high expectations for the long-anticipated US-India free trade deal to be announced during Trump’s visit, other issues will be on the table. These include energy, defence and counterterrorism. Here’s a deep-dive into the matter. [India Today]
According to a report in Business Standard, the Government could amend the Companies Act to allow unlisted Indian companies to list abroad. The Bill to push this particular amendment is expected to be tabled in the ongoing Parliament session. [BS]
All that Glitters...
Monday saw gold prices soaring to over seven-year highs after the metal climbed more than 2.5%. The reason behind the rush to buy the safe haven asset? The coronavirus outbreak, which has adversely impacted the Chinese economy, disrupted the global supply chain and slashed global growth forecasts. [CNBC]
Pepsi in China
US multinational food and beverage maker PepsiCo Inc has agreed to buy Chinese snack brand Be & Cheery from local jujube maker Haoxiangni Health Food Co Ltd for $705m.
The deal, subject to a Haoxiangni shareholder vote, certain regulatory approvals and other customary conditions, would mark an important step in Pepsi's goal to become China's leading consumer-focused food and beverage company.
"Be & Cheery adds direct-to-consumer capability, positioning us to capitalise on continued growth in e-commerce, and a local brand that is able to stretch across a broad portfolio of products, through both online and offline channels," Ram Krishnan, CEO of PepsiCo Greater China said. "We also expect to leverage Be & Cheery's innovation and consumer insights capabilities to drive innovation in other key PepsiCo growth markets," he added. [Moneycontrol]
Bengaluru-based startup Khatabook, which helps merchants record and track business transactions, is in the final stages of closing a $70m funding round led by new investor B Capital Group. The financing round is also expected to see participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital and Tencent.
The round more than triples the valuation of the startup to between $275m and $300m in less than four months - indicative of the continued bullishness among investors to back high-growth financial services startups. [ET Tech]
End of the Road?
According to a Reuters report, US satellite broadband provider Hughes Network Systems says it could shut down its India operations due to unpaid dues it owes the Government. The company reportedly sent a letter to the Telecom Minister saying it faces bankruptcy and it can’t pay the $84m it owes.
The closure of the company could disrupt connectivity at more than 70,000 banking locations and many critical satellite networks in the Armed Forces. [Reuters]
After a tumultuous 2019, India’s auto industry was looking forward to 2020 as the year of rebirth. But the coronavirus may prove spoiler. The outbreak has seen Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus originated, locked down from the outside world. The shutdown of Wuhan and other “motor cities” threatens to disrupt supply of components to India’s vehicle makers. About 27% of component imports into India comes from China. [Livemint]
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