Tech investor Prosus NV buys BillDesk for $4.7B to bolster its PayU business, sharpen India focus

The combination of BillDesk, along with Prosus-owned PayU, is expected to create a financial ecosystem that can handle four billion transactions annually.
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Dutch tech investor Prosus NV on Tuesday said it has acquired Indian payments platform BillDesk for $4.7 billion to bolster its own PayU business, as well as sharpen its focus on India.

The combination is expected to create a financial ecosystem that could handle four billion transactions, annually, which is nearly four times what PayU does in India currently, as well as meet the changing payments needs for multiple stakeholders in the country, the company said in a press release.

BillDesk, founded in 2000 by ex-Arthur Anderson executives  M N Srinivasu, Ajay Kaushal, and Karthik Ganapathy, is a one-stop-shop for all online bill payments. It helps users keep track of bills and due dates, and eliminates the hassle of offline payments via cheques and cash.

The Mumbai-based startup’s investors include Visa, General Atlantic, and Temasek Holdings, among others. It crossed the $1 billion valuation mark after US payments processor Visa bought a minority stake in the startup in 2018.

BillDesk reportedly held talks with PayU, American Express and PayPal for an acquisition, according to various media reports.

PayU, owned by Amsterdam-based Prosus, which was spun off from South Africa’s Naspers in 2019, was BillDesk’s biggest competitor in India. The recent acquisition will see both the companies working in conjunction with each other to power bill payments and online transactions in India.

“Our vision at PayU is of a world without financial borders. A world where everyone has access to the financial services they need to prosper. We believe that the acquisition of BillDesk is a step closer to that vision,” said Laurent Le Moal, CEO of PayU in a LinkedIn post announcing the deal.

“We believe this transaction will stimulate both innovation and competition within India’s digital payments industry,” he said in the press release.

Prosus has invested close to $6 billion in Indian tech startups, to date, and Tuesday’s deal brings its total investment to more than $10 billion, it said. Its Indian portfolio includes food delivery major Swiggy, edtech giant BYJU'S, fintech company LazyPay, and Urban Company

The deal is subject to approval from the Competition Commission of India, the company added. Avendus Capital and PJT Partners were financial advisors to Prosus on this transaction.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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