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SoftBank to Acquire 20% Stake in bKash

SoftBank, the Japanese investment giant, will acquire a 20% stake in bKash, Bangladesh’s largest mobile financial services company, per a price sensitive information disclosed by BRAC Bank, the majority shareholder of bKash Limited on Wednesday. The firm didn’t share the financial details of the deal. 

BRAC Bank Ltd, in its board meeting, has already approved the relevant share purchase and subscription agreement among bKash, its existing shareholders, and the proposed investor SVF II BEAM (DE) LLC. bKash’s existing investors include BRAC Bank, Money in Motion, Alipay, the International Finance Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the bKash Employee Share Option Plan Trust.

The deal, the first such investment by Softbank in a Bangladeshi company, will have to go through relevant regulatory formalities. 

The new investment will not change BRAC Bank’s shareholding in bKash and it will remain the majority voting shareholder of bKash, the announcement said. SoftBank will buy some fresh bKash shares and also stake from any one or more of the existing bKash investors.

SoftBank Vision Fund is an investor in some of the world's largest technology startups including Uber, Grab, DoorDash, India’s Flipkart, among a long list of others. It is also an investor in the Indian fin-tech company Paytm, which is going public with a $2.5 billion initial public offering (IPO), India's largest IPO. 

bKash is the leader in the MFS market in Dhaka. It is the second-largest mobile money service in the world. Launched in 2011, as a joint venture between BRAC Bank Limited, Bangladesh and Money in Motion LLC, USA, the company previously raised investments from International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 2013, a member of the World Bank Group and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2014, and Alipay. 

bKash has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years and has become synonymous with P2P money transfer in the country. Over the last few years, it has been investing aggressively in technology with an ambition to become a platform leveraging its power in MFS. 

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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