Paytm eyes Alibaba-owned browser UCWeb’s India operations – Report

Paytm
Photo: Bloomberg

Digital payments firm Paytm is reportedly in talks to acquire Alibaba-owned browser UCWeb‘s India business in a deal that could be valued around $400-500 million.

According to a source-based report in Times of India, Paytm CFO Madhur Deora is leading the discussions from the fintech company’s side.

Early last year, UCWeb, a part of Alibaba Mobile Business Group, had announced its plans to invest Rs 200 crore ($30 million) over the next two years in India and Indonesia. “The funds will primarily be used to tap the huge potential of user-generated content in India on its news distribution and content platform, UC News,” the firm had said in a statement.

Per the Times of India report, UCWeb has also held talks with local smartphone makers in India to buy out its local business. However, the discussions have not fructified yet.

Alibaba is already an investor in One97, the parent company of Paytm, as well as Paytm E-commerce, the online retailing business of the digital finance company.

Sources quoted in the Times of India report said that SoftBank-backed Paytm is keen on UCWeb as it could use the browser to market its products and acquire a new set of users.

“A browser is a gateway for most new internet users and Paytm is looking to tap into that opportunity via UCWeb. All top internet companies are looking to tap into new users to expand the overall customer base,” said one of the sources.

UC Browser has a strong presence in Vietnam, Indonesia, Russia and China. In India, it claims to have a monthly active user base of 130 million.

UCWeb, however, denied the news report saying ” Media reports have stated that Paytm is in discussion with UCWeb for an acquisition of UCWeb’s India business, which is untrue. As an important part of Alibaba global economy, UCWeb is committed to our globalization strategy and India is our biggest and most important growth market . We have been present in India for 7 years with 130 million monthly active users and have a long-term commitment to the country.”

UCWeb will continue to actively co-operate with partners bringing better service and content to Indian users,” it added in its statement.

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