Qualcomm invests $97m in Jio Platforms

US chipmaker becomes the latest in a line of investors in Reliance Industries' digital business

FILE PHOTO: Commuters use their mobile phones as they wait at a bus stop with an advertisement of Reliance Industries' Jio telecoms unit, in Mumbai, India July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo
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US-based chip maker Qualcomm acquired a 0.15 per cent share in Jio Platforms, becoming the latest investor in the technology platform owned by Reliance Industries.

Qualcomm is investing 7.3 billion rupees (Dh356.5m/$97m) for its stake in Jio Platforms, Reliance Industries said in a statement on Sunday evening. The deal values Jio Platform’s equity at about 4.91 trillion rupees ($65.3bn).

The chip maker, which is investing through its ventures arm, is the latest in a string of recent backers of Jio Platforms, following stake sales to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Mubadala Investment Company, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Facebook, Intel Capital, KKR, TPG, General Atlantic, Silver Lake Capital and Vista Equity Partners.

“Qualcomm has been a valued partner for several years and we have a shared vision of connecting everything by building a robust and secure wireless and digital network and extending the benefits of digital connectivity to everyone in India,” said Reliance Industries’ chairman Mukesh Ambani, who is Asia’s richest man.

“As a world leader in wireless technologies, Qualcomm offers deep technology knowhow and insights that will help us deliver on our 5G vision and the digital transformation of India for both people and enterprises.”

Reliance Industries is India’s largest private sector company, with a consolidated turnover of $87.1bn and a net profit of $5.3bn for the year ended March 31, 2020.

It has been building Jio Platforms, which houses movie streaming, music apps and telecoms venture Jio Infocomm, for four years.

The platform already has 388 million subscribers and Reliance Industries is looking to use technology to create a ‘digital India’ by offering affordable online services to all of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

Reliance Industries has spent about $50bn building the platform, leading to the company holding net debt of about $20bn as of March 2019, but the recent stake sales to investors has eliminated most of this.

Reliance is also working with banks on early preparations for a listing of Jio Platforms outside of India, according to Bloomberg.

“Jio Platforms has led the digital revolution in India through its extensive digital and technological capabilities. As an enabler and investor with a longstanding presence in India, we look forward to playing a role in Jio's vision to further revolutionise India’s digital economy,” Qualcomm’s chief executive Steve Mollenkopf said in the statement.

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