Cash bonanza is on the way for employees of payments company Citrus Pay, as bigger rival PayU agrees to buy the Mumbai company for about Rs.860 crore, in one of the biggest deals in the Indian financial technology space.
About 50 employees are set to share in the spoils with an estimated Rs.43 crore being allocated as returns on the employee stock option plan (ESOP). About 15 employees are set to rake in over Rs.1 crore and an office boy who was one of the first employees at the company taking home Rs.50 lakh.
The all-cash deal -expected to close by the end of 2016-is a rarity in the Indian startup sector where buyouts have largely been stock-based.
Typically, large mergers and acquisitions in the startup sector have been stock transactions including Flipkart's acquisition of fashion portal Myntra in 2014 for an estimated $375 million.
Classifieds portal Quikr bought realty portal CommonFloor for $110 million. In these transactions employees got shares of the acquiring companies.
A few transactions, like Snapdeal's $450-million buyout of FreeCharge and Ola's $200-million deal to buy rival TaxiForSure, were a mix of cash and stock, with the bulk of the transaction being a share swap.
Experts believe that despite a boom in valuation of these companies, avenues to generate liquidity for employees remains tough as most of these businesses are yet to mature financially. In contrast, in markets like the US there are options for secondary sale of shares on platforms such as SecondMarket and SharesPost.
Sequoia Capital, the earliest backer of Citrus Pay, which had invested about $10 million and owned a 32% stake in the venture, is expected to earn a four-fold return on its investment. Other investors like Ascent Capital, Japan's Beenos and eContext Asia have also earned handsome returns. These investors held about 50% stake in the company.
Citrus currently has about 300 employees, with offices in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Gurgaon. Citrus was founded in 2011 by Jitendra Gupta and Satyen Kothari, who left earlier this year to run mobile banking Cube, which was hived off from the company. Rau, former Asia CEO of payment solutions firm First Data, joined Citrus as mangaing director in 2014.
After the deal Rau will take charge as CEO of PayU India while Gupta is expected to drive the company's foray into credit through its product Lazy Pay. But another thing on Gupta's and Rau's agenda is arranging a celebration in Phuket for all of the company's 300 employees in the coming weeks.