Axis Bank has received Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approval to complete the acquisition of mobile wallet company Freecharge for Rs 373.27 crore on a cash-free, debt-free basis, it informed the BSE. This deal includes Accelyst Solutions Private Limited, which is the payments processing business, and Freecharge Payment Technologies Pvt Ltd , which runs the semi-closed prepaid wallets business.
Following this, Sangram Singh has been appointed the new CEO of Freecharge. Prior to this appointment, Singh was serving as the EVP and head of cards and payments business at Axis Bank. He had joined Axis Bank back in April 2014 as the head of the cards (credit, debit and prepaid cards) and merchant acquiring business. Before that, he was with Citibank for just over 9 years (January 2005 to March 2014), and served in various roles, including as VP of card portfolio management and cards product management, head of business payments solutions, prepaid cards business, emerging & enterprise payments business, and credit cards business.
Axis Bank had first announced the acquisition in July this year.
The last two years have been one heck of a ride for Freecharge: First, it was acquired by Snapdeal for a reported $450 million (Rs 2,800 crore), in April 2015. But soon after Snapdeal’s struggles became all too real and Freecharge suffered as well. A number of key members of the core team at Freecharge quit, including Alok Goel, Rajesh Bysani and Pravin Jadhav. Then Govind Rajan, who took over as the CEO of Freecharge in May 2016, quit less than a year later in February 2017. SoftBank’s Jason Kothari had been serving as the CEO till the Axis Bank acquisition materialised.
Trouble didn’t end there: In February this year, Snapdeal confirmed that it is laying off close to 600 people within it’s logistics unit Vulcan Express, and in its payments division FreeCharge. The company had said that it is “rationalizing part of its workforce on its journey to become India’s first profitable e-commerce company in two years”. The company added that it will “realign its resources (in logistics, payments) to become a leaner and more efficient business.”