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Argentine application Ualá receives $ 1 billion in new round of funding

Tencent raised its stake in Ualá, leading a $ 150 million Series C financing round, joined by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp and others. The Buenos Aires-based company was valued at $ 850 million and $ 950 million, said people, who requested anonymity because the details are private.
Ualá plans to use the funds to triple its staff to more than 500 employees by the end of next year, expand its lending product and develop new business units, said founder and CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri. Some of the company’s previous heavy investors, including Soros Fund Management LLC, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Jefferies LLC, are among other participants in the funding round.
The announcement comes two weeks after the company launched a new investment tool in a low-risk mutual fund through the app. Ualá has issued 1.3 million prepaid cards since it began operating in October 2017, as part of a bet on long-term growth in a country where less than half the population has a bank account. Barbieri declined to comment on expansion plans outside Argentina or the company’s assessment.
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“It is by far the largest investment we have received,” Barbieri said in an interview. “We want to continue to partner with other players in financial services.”
Tencent first announced in April that it was participating in the company without disclosing the value. Tencent and SoftBank will have a representative on the Ualá 7-person board. The investment also marks SoftBank’s first venture in Argentina, Barbieri said.
SoftBank’s Marcelo Claure reiterated that the deal is the company’s first direct investment in Argentina. “We believe in your passion, talent and vision to address financial inclusion and become a relevant regional player,” he tweeted. SoftBank is investing in a $ 5 billion fund focused on Latin America.

Source: batimes

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