Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s finance arm agreed to buy a 25% stake in One97 Communications Ltd., owner of an online payments processor, to tap into India's growing e-commerce industry.
The companies didn't disclose the amount of the investment, which is Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co.'s first in an Indian company. One97 will use the funds to expand the mobile side of its Paytm payments platform, which has 23 million users, according to a statement Feb. 5.
Alibaba Group was in talks to buy a minority stake in One97 and may spend as much as $200 million, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Alibaba's billionaire founder, Jack Ma, has made global expansion a priority after the e-commerce giant raised a record $25 billion in an initial public offering in September.
"If Alibaba wants to do global expansion, it's going after markets with huge population and potential, and India is one of them," said Nicky Ge, a Shanghai-based analyst at UOB Kay Hian Investment Co. "The online payment business has just started to take off in India, so it's good that they get into the market early."
Alipay Wallet the mobile version of Alibaba's PayPal-like service has more than 190 million users, according to the statement. Ant Financial has an estimated value of about $50 billion and is planning an initial public offering next year, according to people familiar with the matter.
"With over 1 billion people, India's payments market has vast untapped potential," Cyril Han, vice president of Ant Financial, said in the statement. "Paytm, as a leader in this field, is best equipped to build a mobile-payments ecosystem in the country."