India mobile payments giant Paytm revealed founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma would become its largest shareholder, after agreeing to buy 10 per cent of the company from an affiliate of Ant Group.

In a stock market release, Paytm revealed Sharma would buy the stake from Antfin through his Resilient Asset Management business.

The additional equity will make the company’s founder its largest shareholder with a 19.4 per cent stake while Antfin’s will be cut to 13.5 per cent.

Paytm noted the value of the shareholding was $628 million though the buyer will issue Optionally Convertible Debentures, a form of debt security, to Antfin for the stake rather than cash.

Sharma claimed Paytm was “a true champion of made-in-India financial innovation” highlighting the company’s “achievements in revolutionising mobile payments and contributing to formal financial services inclusion in the country”.

Bloomberg suggested the move could be a way to cut its backing from investors with China ownership at a time of economic tensions between the country and Paytm’s home market of India.

Ant Group, and associated businesses, have been long-term backers of Paytm, taking part in various investment rounds by the Indian business. In 2020 the company denied media reports claiming plans to sell its stake.