Prosus has scrapped the $4.7 billion acquisition of BillDesk it announced last year, once stated to be the European technology giant’s largest, saying “certain conditions” were unfulfilled in a surprising move a month after the proposed acquisition received from the local antitrust watchdog the approval to proceed.
“Certain conditions precedent were not fulfilled by the 30 September 2022 long stop date, and the agreement has terminated automatically in accordance with its terms and, accordingly, the proposed transaction will not be implemented,” Amsterdam-listed Prosus said in a statement Monday without identifying those conditions.
The all-cash acquisition, announced at the peak of the bull cycle last year, was slated to be the second largest M&A deal in the South Asian market’s consumer internet space. In recent quarters, as the market has turned, many promised deals have fallen apart globally.
The investment arm of Naspers — which has invested close to $6 billion in India, thanks to large bets on edtech Byju’s and food delivery startup Swiggy — has lost more than half of its market cap since early last year.
It has been selling stakes in many firms, including Tencent and JD.com, in recent months. Prosus shares remained largely unchanged on the announcement Monday, indicating that investors don’t think not having BillDesk will materially hurt Prosus.
The deal would have allowed Prosus, which already owns fast-growing PayU, to dominate the market of payments processing in India. BillDesk powers payments for most of Indian government departments. At the time of the acquisition, Prosus said the high price tag was justified because of the scalability of the combined businesses.
Prosus indeed now believes the payments market in India has shown cracks in recent quarters and did not wish to go forward with honoring last year’s arrangement, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.