India: Axis Bank in talks to buy digital payment platform FreeCharge

Axis Bank has emerged as the frontrunner to buy Snapdeal-owned mobile wallet FreeCharge, according to a report in The Economic Times citing three people aware of the development.

India’s third-largest private sector lender Axis Bank is currently conducting the due diligence on FreeCharge that could be valued at $100 million, the report said.

The mobile wallet company has been looking for a buyer for the last few months. In May this year, it was reported that leading digital payments firm Paytm had signed a non-binding agreement to acquire FreeCharge. Bharti Airtel is reportedly also in the race to acquire Snapdeal’s arm.

Founded by Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon in 2010, Freecharge is one of India’s leading digital wallet firms, along with Mobikwik and Alibaba-owned Paytm. It was acquired by Snapdeal, run by Jasper Infotech, in 2015 in a cash-and-stock deal estimated at $400-450 million.

Snapdeal has also been looking for an acquirer. The company recently rejected an offer of roughly $700-750 million from larger rival Flipkart. The final price, and the fate of the deal, now depend on negotiations between SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management, the two largest shareholders in Snapdeal and Flipkart, respectively.