The world's largest social media company Facebook has announced an investment of Rs 43, 574 crores ($5.7 billion) for a 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of India's most valued firm, Reliance Industries. The company is the biggest telecom operator in the country with more than 370 million subscribers.
This investment by Facebook puts Jio Platforms at ₹ 4.62 lakh crore of pre-money enterprise value ($65.95 billion, assuming a conversion rate of ₹ 70 to a US Dollar). Facebook’s investment will translate into a 9.99% equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis, and makes Facebook the largest minority shareholder in the Indian telecom network.
Notably, the 9.99% stake is in “Jio Platforms” which looks to be a digital service that Reliance Jio will build with the help of Facebook. While the deal will have many long-term goals and implications, which we will get to in a bit, the immediate effect will be the introduction of JioMart services on WhatsApp.
"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," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.
Stating that the investment reflects its 'commitment to India', Facebook said in a statement that "it would now focus on collaborating with Jio to create new ways for people and businesses to operate more effectively in the growing digital economy."
"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 organisations like Jio have played a big part in getting hundreds of millions of Indians, small businesses online," Zuckerberg said.
Commenting on the partnership with Facebook, Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Ltd, said: "it was an opportunity to grow and transform the digital ecosystem of India for the benefit of all Indians."
India is home to some of Facebook’s most thriving communities on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. 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 among the top-5 listed companies in India by market capitalization, within just three and a half years of the launch of commercial services.
In the long-term, the main focus of the deal is to come up with digital-based solutions for 60 million micro, small and medium businesses, 120 million farmers, 30 million small merchants and millions of small and medium enterprises of which JioMart will be the first step.
WhatsApp boasts of 400 million users in India reaching close to 80 per cent of smartphone users in India. "With communities around the world in lockdown, many of these (small and medium) entrepreneurs need digital tools they can rely on to find and communicate with customers and grow their businesses. This is something we can help with -- and that's why we're partnering with Jio to help people and businesses in India create new opportunities", Zuckerberg said.
Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, is a next-generation technology company building a Digital Society for India by bringing together Jio’s leading digital apps, digital ecosystems and high-speed connectivity platform under one umbrella.
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.
There have been reports about a "super app" as well that would be created by a unified effort of both the two conglomerates, although it is still in nascent stages, which would bring many more e-commerce services under one roof leveraging Facebook’s reach in the future. Along with communication and transactions, it will also eventually aim to serve as a hub for entertainment, content and gaming.