In one of the biggest investment commitments from a Japanese company since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country, telecom giant SoftBank has pledged to invest $10 billion (over Rs 60,000 crore) in India's IT sector over the coming years. Japanese companies had committed an investment of $35 billion in India during Modi's visit in September.
The proposed investment was committed by Softbank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son during a meeting with telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, an official statement said. "Mr Son today (Monday) assured the minister that SoftBank would like to invest $10 billion in India in the coming years. He placed it on record that India is the top most priority for SoftBank."
The Japanese giant will invest about $1 billion (Rs 6,000 crore) in e-commerce major Snapdeal, sources said in Bangalore. An announcement is likely to be made on Tuesday. When contacted, Snapdeal termed the investment figure as "speculative".
"CEO of SoftBank Mr Masayoshi Son met me today (Monday). He expressed great optimism in India's changed investment climate and in the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi," Prasad said on Facebook.Son met Modi later in the day.
Son, who is Japan's richest businessman with a net worth of $19.7 billion as on April 2014, ranks 45th in Forbes' list of the world's most powerful people.
With a market value of $92 billion, SoftBank has operations in broadband, fixed line telecom, e-commerce, finance, media and marketing. It currently has investments in several Indian companies such as mobile ad network InMobi and messenger Hike, which is promoted by Kavin Mittal, son of Bharti Group chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.
Son had wooed away India-born Google executive Nikesh Arora in July this year, and made him vice-chairman at SoftBank.
Betting big on Indian e-commerce space, Son said the sector has the potential to touch $500 billion in the next 10 years from the current size of about $16 billion, creating more jobs.
During the interaction, Prasad highlighted India's potential in the field of electronics and IT. Son asked Prasad to develop a robust mobile phone infrastructure and resolve spectrum-related issues.
In 2007, SoftBank had established a subsidiary in India called Japan Telecom India Pvt Ltd. Earlier this month, SoftBank Corp signed an agreement to invest $250 million in media company Legendary Entertainment.
(With agency inputs)