Alibaba’s Ant Financial is reportedly close to working out a deal to acquire a 25 per cent stake in Indian handset maker Micromax for an undisclosed sum.
The investment in Micromax, the largest domestic manufacturer of mobile phones in India, would value the company at an estimated $4-5 billion.
Although the deal will likely be hammered out by June, it is facing challenges, the Economic Times reported. There reportedly are differences over the company’s future direction between the chairman, Sanjay Kapoor, a former CEO of Bharti Airtel’s Indian business, and its four founders.
The founders — Rahul Sharma, Rajesh Agarwal, Sumeet Kumar and Vikas Jain – own almost 80 per cent of the company. TA Associates has a 15 per cent interest.
Kapoor is said to want Micromax to focus on online sales, following Xiaomi’s strategy, while the founders want to push traditional retail channels, which account for 70 per cent of sales. The chairman also wants to move upmarket, but the founders want to stay focused on the mass market, which they feel has strong potential, the Times said.
Ant Financial runs Alipay, the payment method of choice on Alibaba’s e-commerce site and China’s largest online payments system.
Ant Financial closed a deal in February for a 25 per cent stake in One97 Communications, which runs India’s leading mobile payments firm Paytm.
Alibaba co-founder and chairman Jack Ma said last November that the company was looking at listing Ant Financial on a stock market in China, but no additional details have surfaced since that statement.
Japan’s SoftBank was reportedly in talks to buy a 20 per cent stake in Micromax in March, a deal that could value the Indian company at around $5 billion.