Paytm's Billionaire Founder Set To See Wealth Gain From Planned IPO

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This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of India’s Richest 2021. See the full list here.

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma is gearing up for his next major challenge: the company’s much-anticipated IPO in India, which is awaiting regulatory approval after filing a red herring prospectus in July. The digital payments pioneer, backed by Alibaba and SoftBank, hopes to raise as much as $2.2 billion in what could be one of the country’s largest listings. No date has been set yet for the listing.

With India’s competitive mobile payments market expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2023, Paytm plans to use part of the IPO proceeds to expand its base of 114 million active users and its network of 21 million merchants. Sharma, who became a billionaire in 2017 at age 38, will likely see his $2.35 billion fortune get a boost after the IPO. Paytm is forecast to have a market cap north of $20 billion.

Despite handling over $54 billion in online transactions in the year to March, Paytm continues to remain unprofitable. The company narrowed its net loss by 42% to $232 million in fiscal 2021 from a year earlier and expects the red ink to persist in the “foreseeable future,” according to its prospectus. The pandemic also dealt a blow: revenue dipped 10% to $434 million.

Founded by Sharma in 2009 as a mobile phone recharge service, Paytm saw its e-wallet business explode after November 2016 when India suddenly scrapped 86% of its currency. Since then Paytm has expanded to insurance, gold-backed loans, gaming and banking.

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