US-based online marketplace giant eBay has begun talks to lead a $160-$170 million strategic investment in Paytm Mall, as it looks to explore an offline-to-online commerce and payments strategy in India, reported several media outlets including Economic Times.

The report says that in December last year, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma had already secured the board’s approval to bring in a new strategic investor as the firm did not expect a fresh capital infusion from existing investors Alibaba and SoftBank.

eBay is likely to announce about this investment next month which would be eBay's third investment in India post Flipkart and Snapdeal.

eBay will continue to run its independent online portal in India.

Last year in May, when US retail giant Walmart acquired Flipkaart for $16-billion eBay had then exited its investment in Flipkart for about $1.1 billion. Prior to which, in 2017 eBay had sold its India operations to Flipkart and took a minority stake in the Indian e-commerce firm.

At the time of exiting Flipkart, eBay reportedly held a 6.55% stake in Flipkart and holds about 5% stake in Snapdeal.

Ebay has been looking to invest in e-commerce ever since it sold its stake in Flipkart as the company believes India is a significant and growing market.

Last year, eBay also announced its plans to relaunch its India operations. Paytm Mall, which competes with Flipkart and Amazon in the e-commerce space in India, had raised about Rs 1,500 crore from Japan’s SoftBank Group and existing investor Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in June last year, as part of the Rs3,000 crore funding commitment that was initially announced in April. The investment had then reportedly valued Paytm Mall between $1.6 billion and $2 billion.

Later in same month, Flipkart announced that it will now launch a new platform to sell pre-owned goods by refurbishing them, in an attempt to tap into the market of pre-owned goods, which as of now, is largely unorganized.

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