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Paytm board shuffle continues, Neeraj Arora back in the team

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma (left), Neeraj Arora (middle) and Ravi Adusumalli, managing partner at Elevation Capital, at Code Conf in 2016. (Photo: Twitter)Premium
Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma (left), Neeraj Arora (middle) and Ravi Adusumalli, managing partner at Elevation Capital, at Code Conf in 2016. (Photo: Twitter)

  • Elevation Capital’s Vivek Mathur has been appointed as alternative director to the board
  • Arora, who served on Paytm’s board between 2015 and 2018, had resigned after founder Sharma criticized WhatsApp’s payment model

BENGLAURU : IPO-bound One97 Communications Ltd (OCL) continued to restructure its board with former WhatsApp business head Neeraj Arora reappointed as an additional director, more than three years after he exited the payments firm. Also, Mukul Arora, partner at Paytm’s early investor Elevation Capital—formerly SAIF Partners—has resigned from OCL’s board effective 7 July, showed company filings with the corporate affairs ministry. OCL is the parent of payments firm Paytm.

Arora has been replaced by Elevation Capital’s operating partner and chief financial officer, Vivek Mathur, who has been appointed as an alternative director to Paytm’s board.

According to media reports, Arora, who served on Paytm’s board between 2015 and 2018, had reportedly resigned after founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma publicly criticized WhatsApp’s unified payments interface (UPI)-based payment model.

Arora and Mathur’s appointment follows the reshuffling of OCL’s board earlier this month ahead of its planned November-end public debut. The firm replaced Chinese nationals with Indian and US nationals. The changes included Douglas Lehman Feagin, senior vice-president at Ant Group, who joined Paytm’s board replacing Ant Group chairman and chief executive officer Jing Xiandong.

The company also appointed Ash Lilani, managing partner at Saama Capital, as independent director. Michael Yuen Jen Yao from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Todd Anthony Combs, investment manager at Berkshire Hathaway, retired by rotation from OCL’s board on 30 June. Both Yao and Combs were appointed to OCL’s board in 2019.

On Monday, Paytm received shareholder approval at an emergency general meeting to raise up to 12,000 crore through a fresh issue of shares. Mint reported that the company will raise $268 million as part of its pre-IPO fundraising.

The primary issue is solely to infuse growth capital in the 11-year-old entity, people familiar with the matter told Mint earlier. Paytm’s long-time investors, SoftBank and Ant Financial are expected to offload at least 8,600 crore worth of shares as part of the listing process.

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