Facebook has bought a 9.9% stake in Reliance Jio for $5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crore), the telecom unit of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in a deal that gives the social media giant a firm foothold in a fast-growing massive market and helps the Indian oil-to-telecom conglomerate to significantly cut debt.
The deal values Jio at Rs 4.62 lakh crore ($65.95 billion).
Commenting on the deal, RIL said this is the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world and the largest FDI in the technology sector in India. The investment values Jio Platforms amongst the top 5 listed companies in India by market capitalization, within just three and a half years of launch of commercial services, it said in a statement.
Facebook said, “This investment underscores our commitment to India, and our excitement for the dramatic transformation that Jio has spurred in the country. In less than four years, Jio has brought more than 388 million people online, fuelling the creation of innovative new enterprises and connecting people in new ways. We are committed to connecting more people in India together with Jio.”
The company further said, “Our goal is to enable new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but especially for the more than 60 million small businesses across India.”
Concurrent with the investment, Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail and Facebook’s WhatsApp service have also entered into a commercial partnership agreement to further accelerate Reliance Retail’s new commerce business on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp and to support small businesses on WhatsApp, RIL said.
Since its launch three years ago, Jio, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has grown at a sprinter’s pace to become India’s largest telecom company. It has accumulated some 340 million customers through a barrage of innovations, including offering cut-throat mobile internet prices and a diverse suite of products and including chat services, movies, games and music.
The deal will help reduce RIL’s debt burden, which bulged due to the breakneck expansion of Jio and other businesses. Ambani invested around $40 billion to launch Jio in 2016. RIL is also the largest retail player in India thanks to a series of aggressive expansionary moves into consumer-facing businesses such as e-commerce and grocery.
Source: Money Control