Banking

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway could bag a 60% profit when Paytm goes public

Warren Buffett.

  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway could make a 60% profit when Paytm goes public.
  • The investor’s company owns 2.8% of the digital-payments startup, Paytm’s draft IPO filing shows.
  • Berkshire, Alibaba, Ant Financial, and SoftBank have all agreed to sell some shares in Paytm’s IPO.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stands to make a 60% profit on its Paytm shares if the Indian digital-payments group goes public this year as planned.

Paytm’s draft IPO prospectus was published on Friday, revealing the company hopes to raise up to $2.2 billion from its stock-market debut. Buffett’s company poured about $300 million into Paytm in August 2018, valuing it at roughly $10 billion at the time.

Berkshire still owns 17 million shares, or a 2.8% stake, Paytm’s IPO filing shows. The fintech startup was privately valued at $16 billion in November 2019, according to Bloomberg. If it secures that valuation as a public company, Berkshire’s shares would be worth about $480 million – a 60% gain in three years.

Buffett and his team are poised to cash out some of those profits. Berkshire and other Paytm investors such as SoftBank, Alibaba, and Jack Ma’s Ant Financial have agreed to sell an undisclosed portion of their stakes during the IPO.

Berkshire’s investment in Paytm – a private, foreign, and unprofitable technology startup – might seem out of character for Buffett, who famously sticks to established US businesses that he understands deeply such as Coca-Cola, or American Express.

In fact it was Todd Combs, one of Buffett’s portfolio managers, who negotiated the deal. Paytm’s CEO confirmed that fact to ET Now, and Combs recently retired from the fintech’s board. Combs has spearheaded several of Berkshire’s recent tech bets, including its investments in StoneCo, Snowflake, and most likely Nubank last month.

Paytm, previously known as One97 Communications, posted a 10% drop in revenue to the equivalent of $427 million in the year to March 31. That reflected a 38% slump in e-commerce and cloud services revenue, which offset sales growth of 24% in the payment and financial-services division. However, a sharp reduction in marketing and promotional expenses meant Paytm’s after-tax loss shrunk 42% to $228 million.

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