Info-tech

Facebook in talks to acquire stake in Reliance Jio: Report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 25, 2020 Published on March 25, 2020

The deal is a “multi-billion dollar” deal. File Photo   -  Bloomberg

Discussions have currently been paused due to global travel restrictions, says Financial Times

Tech giant Facebook is in talks with Mukesh-Ambani led Reliance Jio to acquire a 10 per cent stake in the Indian telco, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The deal is a “multi-billion dollar” deal, the report said.

Apart from Facebook, Jio is also in separate talks with search giant Google, it further said. Facebook and Jio have been in talks for a while now. The discussions have currently been paused due to travel restrictions across the globe in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.

According to previous reports, Reliance Jio's enterprise value was estimated to be around $60-65 billion in October 2019 following restructuring wherein almost all of the company’s debt had been taken up by its parent Reliance Industries Ltd.

Recently, Reliance had restructured the digital businesses to bring it under a single entity in a bid to unlock value. “Given the reach and scale of our digital ecosystem, we have received strong interest from potential strategic partners. We will induct the right partners in our platform company, creating and unlocking meaningful value for RIL shareholders,” Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, RIL had told shareholders in October, 2019.

This comes even as Reliance Industries said in January its plan to close the deal to sell a 20 per cent stake in its oil to chemicals business for $15 billion to Saudi Aramco will miss the March 31 timeline announced earlier. The deal was announced in August 2019.

Reliance Industries had soft-launched Jio back in 2015 with its public operations starting in 2016. The company had become the largest telecom operator with a huge subscriber base of over 370 million in three years according to data published by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

RJio had a subscriber market share of 32.1 per cent and a revenue market share of 35.4 per cent in December 2019 as per previous reports.

Facebook, which is currently facing competition in India from ByteDance’s TikTok has recently invested in multiple local startups including social commerce platform Meesho and ed-tech start-up Unacademy.

Facebook and Jio have declined to comment on the matter according to the FT report.

Published on March 25, 2020
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