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Facebook takes 9.9% stake in Reliance Jio, to invest Rs 43,574 cr

The partnership to create opportunities for people and businesses

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Mumbai: Facebook has bought a 9.9 per cent stake in Reliance Jio for $5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crore), the telecom unit of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). The multibillion-dollar deal gives the social media giant a firm foothold in a fast-growing massive market and helps the Indian oil-to-telecom conglomerate to significantly cut debt.

This investment by Facebook values Jio platforms at Rs 4.62 lakh crore pre-money enterprise value ($65.95 billion, assuming a conversion rate of Rs 70 to a US Dollar). Facebook’s investment will translate into a 9.99 per cent equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.

Mark Zuckerberg, in a statement, said: “There's a lot going on in the world right now, but I wanted to share an update on our work in India. Facebook is teaming up with Jio Platforms; we're making a financial investment, and more than that, we're committing to work together on some major projects that will open up commerce opportunities for people across India. India is home to the largest communities on Facebook and WhatsApp, and a lot of talented entrepreneurs. The country is in the middle of a major digital transformation and organizations like Jio have played a big part in getting hundreds of millions of Indian people and small businesses online.”

Reliance Industries Ltd chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said: “When Reliance launched Jio in 2016, we were driven by the dream of India’s digital Survodaya – India’s inclusive digital rise to improve the quality of life of every single Indian and to propel India as the world’s leading Digital Society. All of us at Reliance are therefore humbled by the opportunity to welcome Facebook as our long-term partner in continuing to grow and transform the digital ecosystem of India for the benefit of all Indians. The synergy between Jio and Facebook will help realise prime minister 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.”

Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd, is a next-generation technology company building a digital society for India by bringing together Jio’s leading digital apps, digital ecosystems and India’s #1 high-speed connectivity platform under one umbrella. Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, which provides connectivity platform to over 388 million subscribers, will continue to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jio Platforms.

Jio’s vision is to enable a digital India for 1.3 billion Indians and Indian businesses, especially small merchants, micro-businesses and farmers. Jio has brought transformational changes in the Indian digital services space and propelled India on the path towards becoming a global technology leader and among the leading digital economies in the world. 

Jio has built a world-class digital platform powered by leading technologies such as broadband connectivity, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Augmented and Mixed Reality and Blockchain.

Jio has created an eco-system comprising network, devices, applications, content, service experiences and affordable tariffs for every Indian to experience the Jio Digital Life. During the current Covid-19 crisis, Jio’s platforms have been a dependable and inclusive Digital Lifeline for India, said a company statement.

As one of the largest countries in the world, India is home to some of Facebook’s most thriving communities on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. Over the years, Facebook has invested in India based on a strong belief in country’s entrepreneurial talent and opportunity, to help create meaningful impact for Indians and Indian businesses using their multiple platforms.

The partnership between Facebook and Jio is unprecedented in many ways. This is the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world and the largest FDI in the technology sector in India. The investment values Jio Platforms amongst the top five listed companies in India by market capitalisation, within just three and a half years of launch of commercial services, validating Reliance Industries’ capability in incubating and building disruptive next-generation businesses, while delivering market defining shareholder value.

The investment will enable new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses across India and create new and exciting digital ecosystems that will empower, enrich and uplift the lives of all 1.3 billion Indians.

This partnership will accelerate India’s all-round development, fulfilling the needs of Indian people and the Indian economy. The partnership focus will be India’s 60 million micro, small and medium businesses, 120 million farmers, 30 million small merchants and millions of small and medium enterprises in the informal sector, in addition to empowering people seeking various digital services.

The partnership assumes special significance for India in the wake of the severe disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Indian — and the global — economy. In the post-COVID era, comprehensive digitalisation will be an absolute necessity for revitalisation of the Indian economy.

Concurrent with the investment, Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail Limited (Reliance Retail) and WhatsApp have also entered into a commercial partnership agreement to further accelerate Reliance Retail’s New Commerce business on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp and to support small businesses on WhatsApp. WhatsApp already plays an important role in helping people and businesses connect in India. Reliance Retail’s New Commerce platform, JioMart, is being built in partnership with millions of small merchants and kirana shops to empower them to better serve the needs of Indian consumers. The companies will work closely to ensure that consumers are able to access the nearest kiranas which can provide products and services to their homes by transacting seamlessly with JioMart using WhatsApp.

The transaction is subject to regulatory and other customary approvals. Morgan Stanley as financial advisor and AZB & Partners and Davis Polk & Wardwell as counsels advised on the transaction.

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