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China's Ant Group and Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. have talked about selling a stake in One 97 Communications, which runs the Indian digital payments company Paytm, through a block sale According to sources.

Since its disastrous listing in November 2021, pressure has been mounting on Paytm to become profitable. The stock has fallen by about 70% since listing and fell by 60% in 2022, despite the company's announcement in December of a share buyback programme worth up to 8.5 billion rupees ($102.54 million). Paytm predicted in 2017 that company would have positive free cash flow in the following 12 to 18 months.

The story, which cited persons familiar with the situation, claimed that shareholders and investment banks acting on behalf of the Ant Group and Softbank had previously approached Bharti Airtel founder-chairman Sunil Mittal with an offer to purchase their interests. The talks stalled, and Bharti is not currently holding discussions on this subject, it was noted.

An instant response to Reuters' request for comments was not received from SoftBank, Ant Group, Paytm, or Bharti Airtel. Sources indicate that Ant and SoftBank want to depart Paytm by progressively selling shares in the market.

The remaining portion of Paytm's ownership was sold by China's Alibaba Group earlier this month for around 13.78 billion rupees. The reason Alibaba sold the shareholding was not immediately obvious.

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