Google dials Jio for a stake worth $4 billion
The discussions are at a fairly advanced stage and would likely lead to Google buying more than 6% in the Jio unit.Updated: Jul 14, 2020, 23:31 IST
Google is in advanced talks to invest close to $4 billion into Reliance Industries Ltd’s digital assets unit as the search giant seeks to join a host of marquee investors, including rival Facebook Inc., in tapping India’s vast but nascent internet market, two people directly aware of the development said.
The investment, if it comes through, will be another feather on the cap of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, who has raised a record Rs 1.18 lakh crore since April 22 by selling stakes in Jio Platforms Ltd to a dozen of the world’s biggest investors. The Google investment will take the total fundraising to $1.48 lakh crore.
The discussions are at a fairly advanced stage and would likely lead to Google buying more than 6% in Jio Platforms, the people said, requesting anonymity.
Jio Platforms has so far received investments from a clutch of strategic and financial investors, including Facebook, Intel, Qualcomm as well as private equity firms General Atlantic and KKR among others.
Mint had reported in May that Google was in discussions with Vodafone Idea to pick up about 5% in the company as part of a strategy to develop the next big connected digital ecosystem in India, which would have it in direct competition with Jio. In India, Google has announced a partnership with Bharti Airtel in January to extend its G-suite services to Airtel subscribers and has been working closely with the Bharti Airtel enterprise team for a few years now.
For the proposed deal with Google, Morgan Stanley has been hired as the investment banker by Reliance Industries.
Jio Platforms has so far sold 25.24% in just 11 weeks. For Ambani, the investments have helped Reliance Industries turn net debt-free before the March 2021 deadline. For the country, the deals have positioned India as a hot-spot for M&A this year, accounting for more than 12% of those announced in the Asia Pacific— the highest ratio since at least 1998, Bloomberg reported.
Facebook has invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms in April; Microsoft’s venture fund M12 said last month it would open an office in India to pursue investment opportunities focusing on B2B software startups. Earlier this year, Amazon said it would invest an additional $1 billion in India. Intel has announced an investment of Rs1,894.50 crore for a 0.39% stake in Jio Platforms.