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UPDATE 1-Payments firm Klarna's valuation rises to $46 billion after fundraising

(Adds comments from investor, details on potential IPO)

STOCKHOLM, June 10 (Reuters) - Swedish payments firm Klarna has raised $639 million from a group of investors led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund II, lifting its valuation to about $46 billion - higher than several of the region’s major banks.

Klarna, which allows shoppers to buy online through its merchant partners and settle their dues in instalments via “buy now, pay later” (BNPL), became Europe’s most valuable startup in March when a $1 billion fundraising valued it at $31 billion.

The current round was led by SoftBank, joined by existing investors such as Adit Ventures, Honeycomb Asset Management and WestCap Group.

Klarna’s other investors include Sequoia Capital, NorthZone, Silver Lake, Dragoneer, Permira, Commonwealth Bank of Australia , Bestseller Group, Ant Group, rapper Snoop Dogg, BlackRock and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC.

Reuters reported last month that Klarna was close to raising a new round of funding at a valuation close to $50 billion.

The company, whose chief executive is Sebastian Siemiatkowski, is among the largest players in the global BNPL sector with over 90 million global active users, and processes 2 million transactions a day.

The company is expected to make a stock market debut either later this year or next year. Siemiatkowski told Reuters earlier that he prefers direct listing as done by companies like Spotify to take their companies public.

“We are very happy shareholders, and we could sell our shares tomorrow if we wish, so we don’t have any stress to take the company public,” said Hans Otterling, a partner at venture capital firm Northzone, an early investor in Klarna.

Klarna, founded in 2005, took eight years to reach a valuation of $1 billion, but less than 12 months to go from being valued at $5.5 billion to within touching distance of $50 billion.

Along with rivals such as Affirm and Afterpay, it has seen a surge in demand as the coronavirus pandemic drives a shift in consumer spending online. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Anirban Sen in Bengaluru; Editing by Pravin Char and Steve Orlofsky)

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