Google is investing Rs. 33,737 crores in Jio Platforms for 7.7 percent stake, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) announced on Wednesday. The new development comes just a couple of days after Jio Platforms received Rs. 730 crores of investment from Qualcomm Ventures. The telecom arm of the Indian conglomerate also recently sold its small stake to Intel’s investment arm at Rs. 1,894.50 crores. The fresh investment is a part of Google’s India Digitisation Fund worth Rs. 75,000 crores.
As a result of Google’s investment, Jio Platforms has raised a total of Rs. 1,52,056 crores by selling 32.94 percent stake to various foreign investors.
“Today, we’ve signed a binding partnership and an investment agreement with Google,” Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said while addressing investors at the company’s 43rd annual general meeting (AGM). The transaction is subject to regulatory and other customary approvals.
Jio Platforms and Google have also entered a strategic agreement to develop an Android-based operating system and bring an entry-level Android smartphone that has Google Play store. Details about the launch of the new offerings are yet to be revealed, though.
“Getting technology into the hands of more people, it’s a big part of Google’s mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and usable,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during Reliance’s AGM as a guest appearance. “Through this partnership with Jio Platforms, we see the chance to have an even greater impact that either company could have alone. This partnership is a key part of Google’s next chapter of investment in India.”
Pichai added that the investment in Jio Platforms is the biggest from the Rs. 75,000 crores quota that will be infused in the Indian economy in the next five to seven years.
Other key investments
Earlier this week, Qualcomm Ventures announced the acquisition of a 0.15 percent stake in Reliance’s Jio Platforms at Rs. 730 crores. That partnership was specifically aimed to help “roll out advanced 5G infrastructure and services for Indian customers”, though the government is yet to kick off the 5G auction in the country.
Apart from Qualcomm, Intel and Facebook are the other two tech companies that have invested in Jio Platforms in the last three months. The telco also attracted global equity firms including Silver Lake, TPG, and L Catterton as well as wealth funds such as Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Reliance Industries has cumulatively raised a total of Rs. 2,12,809 crores, which is in excess of its net debt of Rs. 1,61,035 crores at the end of the financial year, Ambani, 63, said at the AGM.
“This is unprecedented in the history of capital markets in India, indeed, there would be very few parallels globally,” he added.
Jio Platforms has majorly helped Reliance emerged as a zero-debt company in the Indian economy, thanks to its large user base. The telco attracted a large number of customers initially by offering affordable 4G data connectivity. However, it transformed the business and expanded its reach by starting solutions including Jio Fiber and JioMeet.
The JioMeet solution saw 50 lakh downloads within days of its launch, Ambani told the investors at the AGM. The video conferencing solution was initially spotted in May, albeit debuted officially just earlier this month. It was initially a mock of video conferencing app Zoom, though it received an update recently to distinguish the experience to some extent.
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