Facebook has taken a Rs. 43,574 crores stake in the Jio digital platforms business of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, the two sides said Wednesday, marking one of the biggest foreign investments in the country. The deal will give the US social media giant a 9.99-percent stake in Jio Platforms, part of Ambani’s Reliance Industries empire.
The deal comes at a time when Facebook-owned WhatsApp has secured approval to roll out its digital payment service in India, according to media reports, to compete with the likes of Google Pay and Paytm. WhatsApp has 400 million users in India, its biggest market, reaching nearly 80 percent of smartphone users in the country.
The social media giant said it would focus on collaborating its messaging platform WhatsApp with Reliance’s e-commerce venture JioMart to enable people to connect with small businesses.
India is Facebook’s biggest single market with some 400 million users.
“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,” said a Facebook statement.
In four years, Ambani has turned his Jio telecoms unit into the country’s biggest mobile operator with 38.8 million subscribers. It has knocked aside competitors with aggressive low pricing.
Jio Platforms provides internet and e-commerce services that tap into the huge subscriber base.
Reliance said it wanted to boost income for farmers, micro-traders and other small businesses that are the cornerstone of the economy of 1.3 billion people.
Reliance Jio, the fast-growing telecom carrier controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, began operations in late 2016.
Last month, Financial Times reported that social media giant was in talks for a 10 percent stake in Jio but the talks were halted due to global travel bans amid the coronavirus outbreak.