Google is adding more fuel to its drive into India’s tech industry with a bid to buy a $4 billion stake in Jio Platforms, a Reliance Industries subsidiary in which Facebook has invested $5.7 billion for a 10 percent stake.
Indian billionaire business magnate Mukesh Ambani is the managing director and largest shareholder in Reliance.
Sources told Bloomberg News that Google could announce a Jio deal in the next few weeks. The Mountain View, California-based tech titan wants to tap into India’s potential in the internet, eCommerce and mobile payments markets.
This week, Google announced that it was ramping up its ties to India with a $10 billion investment in the country’s technology buildout. The move is part of Big Tech’s focus on the subcontinent, particularly the mobile payments market.
While in India, CEO Sundar Pichai said Google would use the “India Digitization Fund over the next five to seven years. We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy.”
Big Tech’s focus on India comes at a time when the country is seen as a hot market. Only about half of its 1.3 billion people are currently online. At the same time, the country has gone through COVID-19 lockdowns.
Google’s interest in Jio demonstrates the lure of a country where every month, millions of people are using the internet for the first time. According to Bloomberg, Jio has almost 400 million customers through its wireless network, the largest number of such users in India. Increasingly, users in the country are looking to buy consumer products online, download music and watch videos using smartphones.
Other Jio investors include Qualcomm, Intel Capital and Silver Lake Partners — to the tune of $750 million.
According to Bloomberg, Reliance had sold 25.2 percent of Jio, which would value the tech company at $65 billion.