Private equity (PE) firm Multiples Alternate Asset Management is in advanced talks to lead a funding round of around $60 million in digital lender Kissht, said three people aware of the matter.

While Multiples is expected to invest $50 million, Kissht’s existing investors—Singapore’s Vertex Ventures, Russia’s Sistema Asia Fund, Fosun RZ Capital, Ventureast and Endiya Partners—will contribute a total of $10-12 million, at a post-money valuation of $200-220 million, said the people cited above, requesting anonymity.

Kissht is a consumer credit startup founded in 2015 by former McKinsey consultants Krishnan Vishwanathan and Ranvir Singh. It allows consumers to pay for their online orders in monthly instalments, without a credit card.

While Multiples did not respond to emails seeking comment, Singh of Kissht, in an emailed response, said: “will definitely inform you if anything firms up".

The company has signed up more than 3,000 offline retail stores and over 50 online merchant partners, including Amazon, Flipkart, Caratlane, MakeMyTrip and Uber, according to its website.

It uses proprietary algorithms to assess the creditworthiness of a potential buyer and processes credit purchases instantly.

It currently lends about 90 crore a month, with its share of loans from offline channels marginally increasing at a marginally faster pace compared to online, said a third person aware of the company’s plans.

It last raised a Series C round of $30 million led by Vertex Ventures and Sistema, following a $10 million fundraise in a Series B round led by China’s Fosun RZ Capital.

Kissht’s funding indicates that investors are still willing to invest in lending startups, which are able to keep their defaults to a minimum, despite a broader situation where a number of financiers such as Dewan Housing Finance, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) and Altico Capital have posted large-scale defaults.

Other digital lenders, who are actively looking to raise equity, include Lendingkart and Vivriti Capital, while others such as Shubh Loans and OfBusiness raised fresh capital in the last few weeks. An investment by Renuka Ramnath-led Multiples also signals the PE firm’s continued interest in technology-enabled firms. Its tech investments in fantasy gaming startup Dream11, and e-commerce logistics firm Delhivery, stand to make good returns, and are valued at more than a billion dollars each, said an investor who has co-invested with Multiples. Multiples is currently raising its third private equity fund, targeting a corpus of $900 million, which would make it one of the largest PE funds in India. Mint reported on 16 July that the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), India’s sovereign wealth fund, is considering an investment of $100 million in Multiples third fund.

The third fund is anchored by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which has agreed to put in $200 million or a quarter of the total fund value, whichever is lower, according to the Mint report.

Multiples, which raised its first fund of $405 million in 2011, closed its second fund of $700 million (including a $150 million co-investment pool) in 2017, and launched its third fund, Multiples Private Equity Fund III, in February 2018. It has made nearly 20 investments from the first and second funds.

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