Google to invest $4.5bn for a 7.7% stake in India's Jio Platforms

The US tech company joins other companies such as Mubadala and Facebook that have taken up stakes in the digital platform

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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Google said it will invest 337.4 billion Indian rupees ($4.5bn/Dh16.5bn) for a 7.7 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, the digital arm of Reliance Industries.

The US technology company joins several other companies that invested in Jio Platforms, including 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.

US chip maker Qualcomm also bought a 0.15 per cent share in Jio Platforms for 7.3bn rupees earlier this week.

"We welcome Google onboard and are excited about our partnership for what it can deliver to Indians, from universalising internet usage to deepening the new digital economy and providing a prime mover to India's economic growth," Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, said in a statement on Wednesday.

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 2020.

It built Jio Platforms, which houses movie streaming, music apps and telecoms venture Jio Infocomm, over the past four years.

The platform has 388 million subscribers and Reliance Industries intends to use technology to create a "digital India" by offering cheaper online services to the country’s 1.3 billion people.

The Public Investment Fund invested about $1.5bn in Jio for a 2.32 per cent stake last month. Adia invested $753.4m for a 1.16 per cent stake while Mubadala invested $1.2bn for a 1.85 per cent stake.

The total investment of financial and strategic investors in Jio Platforms stands at 1.5 trillion rupees after Google's investment, Mr Ambani told the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

“Reliance is truly a zero net debt company, well ahead of my goal of March 2021,” he said.

“We now have an extremely strong balance sheet that will support all our hyper growth plans for our three businesses, that is, Jio, retail and O2C [oil-to-chemicals]. Our target for our capital raise is now complete.”

Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai said “the pace and scale of digital transformation in India is hugely inspiring ... and reinforces our view that building products for India first helps us build better products for users everywhere”.

“Our joint collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of Indians who don’t currently own a smartphone while improving the mobile experience for all,” he said.

Google said earlier this week that it is investing $10bn in India in the next five to seven years to hasten the development of its digital economy.