Amazon may become the latest American tech giant to buy its way into India’s fast-growing telecom market as it eyes a deal that could upend the nation’s mobile market.
The eCommerce company is in the early stages of exploring a deal to take a $2 billion stake in Bharti Airtel, India’s third-largest telecom operator, Reuters reported, citing three sources with knowledge of the talks.
The potential move by Amazon would give the tech behemoth a 5 percent stake in Bharti, while also reshuffling India’s mobile market by providing an infusion of cash to the up-and-coming telecom as it challenges the market’s dominant player, Reliance Jio.
The move comes on the heels of big investments by a pair of U.S.-based tech companies in Reliance Jo, Bharti’s corporate rival.
Facebook snapped up a nearly 10 percent share in Reliance Jio in April, while reports in the Indian media indicate that Microsoft is exploring its own deal to invest up to $2 billion in India’s top telecom company.
Meanwhile, Google is exploring its own Indian telecom play. The tech giant has been eyeing a deal to buy a 5 percent stake in Vodafone, the country’s second-largest telecom, the Financial Times has reported. And Google has also discussed a potential deal with Reliance Jio.
Amazon’s interest in Indian mobile operator Bharti is no flash in the pan, but rather part of a now years-long campaign by billionaire Jeff Bezos’ global tech and online retail empire to tap into India’s rapidly expanding economy. Amazon has already laid out $6.5 billion in various investments since entering the Indian market seven years ago.
At a news conference in New Delhi in January, Bezos and Amit Agarwal, the head of Amazon India, announced plans to spend $1 billion to bring small and medium-sized businesses online across the country.