Paytm in talks to buy online travel portal Via.com

Paytm in talks to buy online travel portal Via.com

Digital payments major Paytm has entered into discussions to acquire online travel company Via.com as it doubles down on its travel and hospitality business, taking on established firms such as the Nasdaq-listed MakeMyTrip and Yatra.

Paytm, which raised $1.4 billion from SoftBank in May, has held preliminary discussions although a term-sheet is yet to be signed, according to four people aware of the developments. Via.com could potentially be valued at up to $80 million for the sale, these people said, declining to be identified.

Paytm’s travel business crossed annualized gross merchandise volume (GMV), or gross sales, of $500 million in January, driven by bookings of two million tickets that month. The Noida-headquartered company, which also counts Chinese ecommerce behemoth Alibaba Group and affiliates as well as SAIF Partners among its backers, has projected annualized GMV of $2 billion for its travel business by March.

Bengaluru-based Via.com, which is backed by venture capital investors including IndoUS Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital, has raised about $15 million in funding. Founded in 2007, the company formerly known as FlightRaja has 100,000 active travel partners across 2,600 towns and cities, and covers more than 13,000 pin codes across Asia.

Paytm has been in hyper-expansion mode the last 12 months, looking to snap up properties across sectors. It was recently in advanced discussions to acquire deals platforms Nearby and Little. In July, it was reported that Paytm Mall, spun out from parent One97 Communications this year to an entity called Paytm E-commerce, had initiated discussions to pick up a stake in online grocer BigBasket.

That deal, if successful, could see Paytm Mall invest about $200 million in BigBasket for a significant minority stake, placing it in a strong position to challenge Amazon in online grocery retail. This segment claims the largest share of the overall retail market, bigger than categories such as smartphones and fashion that currently dominate online retail.

India’s broader online travel space has seen a spate of consolidation, along with fundraising, as companies and investors rush to grab a larger slice of what is currently estimated to be a $9.1 billion market, according to industry reports.

 

News Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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