Facebook acquires a stake in a fast-growing Indian telco

Facebook has acquired a $5.7 billion stake in Reliance Jio, joining forces with the fast-growing Indian telecoms company as it seeks to deepen its foothold in the region. The world’s largest social media company on Tuesday announced the purchase of almost 10 per cent of the heavily indebted Jio, whose cut-price mobile internet service has attracted 388 million Indian users since its birth in 2016.  Facebook said the deal — its largest single investment in another company aside from its acquisitions — marked its “commitment to India” and meant it was now the largest minority shareholder in the Indian telecoms group, part of the business empire of Mukesh Ambani, the country’s richest man. The move gives Jio, a subsidiary of Mr Ambani’s Reliance Industries conglomerate, a pre-money enterprise valuation of almost $66 billion… Since launching Jio in 2016, Mr Ambani’s Reliance Industries has emerged as the only Indian group capable of competing with US tech companies in the fast-growing Indian market, expanding from mobile telecoms into everything from home broadband to ecommerce. However, Reliance’s debt burden has ballooned as it has spent tens of billions of dollars to build out Jio. 

Hannah Murphy and Benjamin Parkin