Snapdeal Buys Mobile Recharge Service Freecharge

08/04/2015 2:48 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Bloomberg via Getty Images
The website is displayed on an Apple Inc. Iphone in an arranged photograph in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. India doesnt allow foreign-controlled companies to sell products online. Thats led local web retailers such as the local Snapdeal to a different model than the one pioneered by Amazon: they operate online marketplaces and local traders sell goods in a $3 billion e-commerce market. Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BENGALURU — Online marketplace said on Wednesday it bought online mobile recharge firm Freecharge for an undisclosed amount in a bid to boost its reach in the fast-growing mobile transactions business.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Speculation about the deal had been reported since March, and the price was pegged at $450 million (Rs 2,800 crore). This acquisition continues consolidation in a sector that has seen high valuations along with big losses at companies trying to lure buyers with hefty discounts.

Snapdeal, backed by SoftBank Corp, competes with Flipkart and Inc's India unit in the country's online shopping market, which is expected to be worth $102 billion by 2020, according to Morgan Stanley.

Easy availability of smartphones and cheap data plans have resulted in most of those transactions to be made via apps, where consumers use their mobile phones for everything from buying clothes to booking movie tickets. Freecharge allows users to top up amounts on their mobile phone or internet connections and get coupons as reward for using its service.

Snapdeal Chief Executive Kunal Bahl said 1 million mobile transactions would take place daily once the companies are combined. About 75 percent of all Snapdeal transactions now are through mobile users, he said. “Ninety per cent of Internet users in India within the next few years will be mobile only. It becomes very important to have a very strong mobile commerce strategy," said Bahl.

Freecharge would remain an independent platform even after the deal, which is expected to close within the next 6 months, Bahl said. This would make Snapdeal the largest mobile commerce company in India, Snapdeal said in a statement.

Snapdeal also took to Twitter to announce the deal.

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(With agency inputs)

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