Social media giant Facebook was tipped to take a significant stake in Indian operator Reliance Jio, as part of a bid to expand its presence in the country, Financial Times (FT) reported.
Sources told the newspaper Facebook was nearing a deal to acquire a 10 per cent share of the company as part of a “multibillion-dollar” transaction.
In its Q4 2019 earnings report, Reliance Jio said it had 370 million subscribers as of 31 December 2019. Analysts at financial company Bernstein pegged its worth at more than US$60 billion.
An agreement was originally expected to be announced sometime this month, but the global outbreak of Covid-19 (coronavirus) threw the timing into question, FT reported.
The move comes as Facebook looks to establish a more secure foothold in a strategically important market.
On earnings calls throughout 2019, executives pointed to India as a leading driver of growth in daily active users on Facebook’s namesake app. In July 2019, TechCrunch reported the company’s WhatsApp platform hit 400 million users in the country.
But Facebook has long struggled with regulatory hurdles in India, most recently battling for approval to launch a WhatsApp payments feature there.
And in 2016, authorities blocked Facebook’s attempt to offer consumers in the country its Free Basics sponsored data programme, which would have provided access to its platform at zero cost. –Mobile World Live