Tuesday, May 28

Facebook buys Reliance Jio 9.9% Stake for $5.7 billion

Facebook announced an acquisition of a 9.9% stake in India’s largest telecom operator Jio Platforms Ltd for USD 5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crore).

With this deal, the social media giant looks to expand its presence in its largest subscriber-based market.

“Today, we are announcing a USD 5.7 billion, or Rs 43,574 crore, investment in Jio Platforms Limited, part of Reliance Industries Limited, making Facebook its largest minority shareholder,” the fb said in a statement.

Facebook’s move to pick up about a 10 percent stake in Jio Platforms will accelerate Jio’s digital monetization drive and put Reliance Industries (RIL) on course to turn net debt-free by March 2021, said Indian analysts.

It said that Facebook’s investment into this entity will further Reliance Industries’ digital initiatives and will help in deleveraging.

“The deal will aid in achieving net debt-free (target) by March 2021. As of December 31, 2019, net debt for the group stands at Rs 1,531 billion (Rs 1.53 lakh crore) and with Facebook’s investment, this should put RIL on course to be net debt-free by Mar-2021,” it said.

The investment in Jio is one of the biggest investments Facebook can make. The transaction fits with their recent push to build themselves and experiment more and provides a closed network of 388 million users to test on, proof point around the already announced partnership to build and test a WeChat like app.

Facebook has already launched WhatsApp as customer service/social commerce tool in India allowing brands and retails to talk directly to customers/prospects, this can strengthen that offering both for 60 million small merchants on JioMart but also for Reliance Jio itself.

Reliance in a separate statement said the investment by Facebook values Jio Platforms at USD 65.95 billion, assuming a conversion rate of Rs 70 to a US dollar.

Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), houses digital services of the group. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, with 388 million subscribers, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jio Platforms.

The Facebook deal is part of value unlocking by RIL to cut debt. RIL has been seeking strategic partnerships across its businesses while targeting to deleverage its balance sheet.