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Digital payments major, PhonePe on Friday said that it has announced a buyback of employee stock options (ESOPs) worth 135 crore, as it looks to continue providing liquidity events for employees.

The company's founders – including Sameer Nigam and Rahul Chari – will not be participating in the current buyback. As a part of the current liquidity event, PhonePe’s leadership will only be allowed to sell 10% of their vested stock options, while the current employees can sell upto 25% of their vested options.

“Last December, we launched a new PhonePe ESOP plan and issued ESOPs to 100% of our employees across levels, functions and grades. All these employees will complete the one year cliff of their stock vesting next month, so it’s a great time to offer some liquidity to everyone. Almost 75% of our current workforce is eligible to participate in the current buyback offer, and for most it’s the first time in their careers that they’ve either owned ESOPs or had a chance to liquidate them," said Manmeet Sandhu, head of human resources, PhonePe.

Indian startups have been ramping up on distributing ESOPs, as a tool to attract top talent.

Mint had reported on November 15 that ten companies, including Paytm, Oyo, Zomato, Nykaa and Pharmeasy, that have either listed this year or are preparing to do so, have generated close to $5.2 billion for their workers through their ESOP programme.

In December last year, PhonePe launched its ESOPs programme where it allotted ESOPs to all its 2,200 employees starting at a minimum of 3.5 lakh, cumulatively worth 1,500 crore.

Around the same time, the digital payments company had announced spinning off from parent Flipkart, a move aimed at widening the digital payments platform's access to capital to fuel its growth.

As a part of the transaction, PhonePe was expected to raise $700 million in primary capital, with Flipkart continuing to hold a majority stake in the digital Fintech.

Earlier this month, PhonePe announced that it has processed over 2 billion digital payment transactions on its platform in October, this year. It processed close to 1.93 billion unified payments interface (UPI) transactions with the rest of the transaction growth coming from wallet, and debit or credit card payments.

PhonePe achieved the 2 billion transaction milestone just eight months after it had announced processing 1 billion transactions on its network in February 2021.

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