ANI Technologies, which owns and operates ride-hailing platform Ola, had increased its pool of employee stock options, weeks before the government deferred payable taxes on the exercise of employee stock option plans (ESOPs) by five years in the union budget.
The company board passed a special resolution to increase the pool by 15,36,230 options converting to 1,53,623 equity shares in a meeting held late in December. Ten employee stock options equals one equity share of Rs 10 face value each, according to a regulatory filing.
A company spokesperson declined to comment on the valuation of the stock options.
Seen as a mechanism by startups to attract talented employees, option pools consist of shares of stock reserved for its employees. It is generally driven with an understanding that employees are rewarded with stock, if and when they help the company perform well enough to lead to a public listing.
Founded by IIT Bombay alumni Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati in 2011, Ola is en route a cost-streamlining path leading to an initial public offering (IPO) in 2021. It was reportedly planning to trim 20% of its 5,000-employee workforce.
The unicorn’s cost optimisation efforts showed in its profit and loss statement for the financial year ended March 2019. The company’s total expenses reduced by 27% to Rs 3,315.48 crore and advertising promotional expenses dropped by 60% to Rs 153.81 crore.
Revenues grew 16% to Rs 2,155.21 crore, and losses narrowed to Rs 1160.27 crore or Rs 583.03 per share, from Rs 2676.7 crore or Rs 1346.91 per share a year earlier.
In September, it raised $5.1 million from ARK Ola Pre-IPO Private Investment Trust. The Seoul, South Korea-registered fund is a special purpose vehicle, expected to support Ola’s IPO plans.
Ola provides services in over 250 cities in India, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, with a network of two million driver partners.