Bengaluru, NFAPost: Market is rife with rumours that Amazon.com has started discussion to buy a stake worth at least $2 billion in Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel.
Along with leading media houses, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, underscoring the growing attraction of India’s digital economy for US tech giants.
Digital companies are looking at expanding foot print in India using various methods. Besides acquiring companies, tech giants are taking stake in companies which will fuel their presence in the country.
The new development comes at a time when global players are placing major bets on the digital arm of Reliance Industries, which owns Bharti’s telecom rival Jio. Reliance’s digital unit has raised $10 billion in recent weeks from Facebook, KKR and others. Amazon’s interest in Bharti Airtel comes as Google is in separate talks to buy stake in Vodafone Idea, the second largest telecom operator in India.
The talks between Bharti and Amazon are at an early stage and the deal terms could change, or an agreement may not be reached, said two of the three sources, all of whom declined to be identified because the discussions are confidential.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does “not offer comments on speculation of what we may or may not do in future.”
Bharti said they routinely work with all digital players to bring their products, content and services to customers. “Beyond that there is no other activity to report,” it said in a statement.
Amazon counts India as a crucial growth market where it has committed $6.5 billion in investments mainly toward expanding its e-commerce footprint. The company’s cloud business is also registering exponential growth.
The Seattle-based company has in recent years also expanded its digital offerings in India via its voice-activated speakers, video streaming and cloud storage, as it seeks to tap a rising number of internet and smartphone users in the country of 1.3 billion people.
India is witnessing multiple partnerships by American tech giants with telecom operators in India, a key overseas market for them, over the years to expand their reach in the nation. Microsoft has clinched a partnership with Reliance Jio to bring Office 365 to small business at a subsidised cost.
Google also clinched a deal with Airtel on similar lines to provide Google Cloud suite. Amazon, which leads the cloud market in India, had a partnership with Airtel currently does not continue any such partnerships.