Facebook Invests $5.7 billion in India’s Jio Platforms
Social media giant, Facebook has unveiled a new collaboration to accelerate India’s digital transformation. It announced a huge investment in Reliance Jio, a company which has been a game-changer in India’s telecoms, media and entertainment sectors. The deal gives Facebook a 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio making Facebook its largest minority shareholder.
On its corporate website, Facebook mentioned,
“Today we are announcing a $5.7 billion, or INR 43,574 crore, investment in Jio Platforms Limited, part of Reliance Industries Limited, making Facebook its largest minority shareholder.”
“India is in the midst of one of the most dynamic social and economic transformations the world has ever seen, driven by the rapid adoption of digital technologies. In just the past five years, more than 560 million people in India have gained access to the internet.”
Reliance Industries reportedly invested $23 billion before launching Reliance Jio three and a half years ago. In its early iteration, it offered low cost, nationwide cellular broadband services. That shook up the existing hierarchy in mobile telecoms in the world’s second-most populous nation and provided the Internet to tens of millions of people who had never previously been online. That powered up Facebook, which now has more users in India than any other single country.
Reliance Jio is part of Reliance Industries, sprawling petroleum to property conglomerate controlled by Mukesh Ambani.
Recently, Reliance Industries has built its own streaming-era media empire. This has included acquiring stakes in TV groups, and the development of its own content production studios. Reliance Jio now has an array of media operations including music streaming service JioSaavn, broadband, on-demand live television service JioTV, and payments service JioPay.
It also owns a 5% minority stake in Eros International, the Bollywood distributor and streaming platform, that last week announced a planner merger with STX Entertainment.
Facebook’s WhatsApp has become the default messaging service 340 million people in India, and the main news aggregator for many. That attracted regulatory scrutiny. Facebook tried and failed in an attempt to launch its Free Basics Internet service in India.
“We’re making a financial investment, and more than that, we’re committing to working together on some major projects that will open up commerce opportunities for people across India,” said Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook posting.
In a web posting, Mukesh Ambarni said, “The synergy between Jio and Facebook will help realize Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ Mission with its two ambitious goals — ‘Ease of Living’ and ‘Ease of Doing Business’ – for every single category of Indian people without exception. In the post-Corona era, I am confident of India’s economic recovery and resurgence in the shortest period of time. The partnership will surely make an important contribution to this transformation.