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To boost travel biz, Paytm in talks to acquire travel portal Via.com


India’s second most valuable startup and Alibaba-backed Paytm is in talks to acquire Via.com, a Bengaluru-based travel booking site.

According to a TOI report, the home-grown e-commerce-cum-payment platform Paytm, which raised $1.4 billion from SoftBank in May, has held preliminary discussions although a term-sheet is yet to be signed.

The deal if goes through will value Via.com at close to $80 million

The Via.com acquisition will help further Paytm’s cause and expand its footprint across more hotel and airline operators, listings, offers and more.

The anticipated deal could be an alarming call for well-established players like MakeMyTrip and Yatra. This month MakeMyTrip invested in travel-tech startup GoFro, while Yatra acquired corporate travel service Air Travel Bureau (ATB) for an undisclosed amount in July, this year.

Paytm’s travel business crossed annualised gross merchandise volume (GMV), or gross sales, of $500 million in January, driven by bookings of two million tickets that month.

The Noida-headquartered company, which also counts Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group and affiliates as well as SAIF Partners among its backers, has projected annualised GMV of $2 billion for its travel business by March.

Founded in 2007, Via.com is backed by venture capital investors including IndoUS Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital, has raised about $15 million in funding.

Formerly known as FlightRaja, Via.com has 100,000 active travel partners across 2,600 towns and cities, and covers more than 13,000 pin codes across Asia.

Late last month, Via.com started the Via Bug Bounty Program that encourages security research in Via software and rewards those who help create the safest platform for customers to transact on.

Paytm’s is also trying to shore up its hotel bookings business which offers better margins compared to travel where it is fighting not only with the online travel sites but specialised startups like OYO, Treebo Hotels and FabHotels.

Also Read: Indian travel market to grow at 11% to $48 billion by 2020: Google-BCG report

In the past, Paytm was in talks with Cleartrip for a potential deal and acquired a majority stake in Mumbai-based online ticketing platform, Insider.in.

Currently, the company is in talks to acquire Little, a hyperlocal deals marketplace in the online to offline space and Nearbuy.

Via.com: Website

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