Rocket Internet needs no introduction. The mothership has today sold a 10 per cent stake for €333 million or approximately $445 Million to Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (“PLDT”), a top telecoms operator in the Philippines.
According to Oliver Samwer, Founder and CEO of Rocket Internet, “Financial technology is a key focus sector for Rocket and this partnership will allow us to build on PLDT’s world-class innovations in mobile money and micro-payments and accelerate the delivery of those solutions around the world. We are very pleased to welcome PLDT into our core shareholder base.”
Rocket Internet will leverage PLDT’s Smart Communication Inc to develop online and mobile payment solutions to provide products and services for the “unbanked, uncarded and unconnected” population in emerging markets. PLDT’s Smart Communications runs mobile banking and mobile wallet services in its major markets and reports to have handled transactions valued at approximately €3.4 billion in 2013.
Its mobile money subsidiary, Smart eMoney, co-developed and operates a global mobile payments platform of MasterCard, and, is now working with Citibank and VISA to develop new innovative financial services. Its mobile banking platform powers services for the top three banks of the Philippines. PLDT’s investment in Rocket will be in new shares issued by the company, of the same class and bearing the same rights as shares held by current investors. As part of the investment, PLDT will appoint one member of Rocket’s nine person Supervisory Board.
Napoleon L. Nazareno, President and CEO of PLDT say he is very excited to embark on this journey with Rocket.
”Our investment demonstrates our commitment to the global Internet market and our belief in the powerful synergies between e-Commerce and mobile payments, particularly in developing economies. The strategic partnership will allow us to leverage our combined strengths in developing online and mobile payment solutions in emerging markets.”
According to Nazareno, “Rocket has developed a unique platform for establishing new Internet companies and a proven track record in successfully rolling out these businesses in fast growing markets. We expect the partnership to have a pronounced positive impact on our organization.”
PLDT joins Investment AB Kinnevik and Access Industries as the third external investor in Rocket, in addition to Global Founders GmbH (European Founders Fund GmbH). Founded in 2007 by the Samwer brothers, Rocket Internet has built companies in Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Russia, India and Europe such as Zalora, Lazada, Dafiti, Linio, Jumia, Carmudi, Lamudi, Kaymu, EasyTaxi, Lendo, Namshi, Lamoda, Jabong, Westwing, Home24 and HelloFresh.
Kinnevik is ok with PLDT’s buy and the sell values Rocket Internet at EUR 3.3bln (or over $4.5B). Kinnevik has also sold its 3% in Rocket Internet and will own a 21.5% stake in Rocket Internet post deal. Rocket Internet has been said to be eyeing a $4B IPO.
“We are delighted to welcome PLDT, the leading telecoms operator in the Philippines, as a new strategic partner and shareholder in Rocket Internet. This new partnership, centered on online and mobile payment solutions in emerging markets, highlights the global reach and strength of Rocket Internet’s platform” says Lorenzo Grabau, CEO of Kinnevik.