German Internet-focused VC and incubator Rocket Internet has sold a 10% stake to Philippines-based telco PLDT for EUR333 million in a deal that will also see the two firms team on building online and mobile payments services in emerging markets.
Rocket has a long history of investing in e-commerce, marketplace and payments firms in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where large chunks of the population remain outside of the formal financial ecosystem.
PLDT's wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications, has long provided mobile money services to the unbanked, last year handling transactions valued at around EUR3.4 billion.
The partners argue that by combining Rocket's global technology platform with PLDT's experience and intellectual property in mobile payments and remittance platforms, they can bring products and services to the 'unbanked, uncarded and unconnected' in emerging markets.
Oliver Samwer, CEO, Rocket Internet, says: "Financial technology is a key focus sector for Rocket and this partnership will allow us to build on PLDT's world-class innovations in mobile money and micro-payments and accelerate the delivery of those solutions around the world."
Napoleon Nazareno, CEO, PLDT, adds: "Our investment demonstrates our commitment to the global Internet market and our belief in the powerful synergies between e-Commerce and mobile payments, particularly in developing economies."
PLDT's investment in Rocket will be in new shares issued by the company, of the same class and bearing the same rights as shares held by current investors. As part of the investment, PLDT gets to appoint one member of Rocket's nine person supervisory board.
According to Bloomberg, Rocket is currently working with banks as it prepares an initial public offering, which could come before the end of the year.