|Paytm will start preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 22-24 months, its founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said at the HT-Mint Asia Leadership Summit in Singapore on Friday.|
The Indian e-commerce and digital payments giant last disclosed raising $300 million from Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway in 2018. Its valuation has skyrocketed to $15 billion, Sharma recently told Mint.
Paytm’s parent company One97 Communications is India’s most valuable unicorn, or privately held startup with a valuation of $1 billion or more. Its backers include Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Vision Fund, and Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial.
Sharma noted that while a public listing is ‘inevitable’, it has yet to construct a roadmap for it because he wants the firm to generate more cash before entering the public market.
“I’d prefer to see a 5% reduction in margins right now, maybe 10% incremental, so maybe two years? I’m talking free cash, not profitability. I make money, but I’m looking to make free cash, and then I’ll go [list]. When I’m comfortable issuing bonds that I can sell in five years, then I’ll go [list]," he said.
He added that India is going through a “golden age of entrepreneurship" and considers himself “lucky" to be born in such a period where small founders get to build big businesses in the market.
“We've seen large businesses in the country. But this is the age in time when we are able to build young companies, create massive amount of value for company shareholders, and produce great solutions to problems in India," said Sharma.
India’s venture capital and startup ecosystem has grown significantly, drawing the attention of both local and foreign investors in recent years.
According to Venture Intelligence, Indian startups raised a record $3.9 billion from VCs in the first half of calendar year 2019. The figure surpasses the full year figure for 2016 and 2017, indicating a surge in investor confidence, buoyed by post-election optimism and Flipkart’s $16-billion exit to Walmart last year.