India’s potential is irresistible for tech’s bigwigs

Amazon may take a $2B stake in one of the country’s largest telecom companies. Big Tech is racing to make its mark in India.

June 5, 2020

Jeff Bezos may bust out the billions for one of India’s largest telecom companies.

Amazon is considering a $2B stake in Bharti Airtel, in a move that continues the trend of American tech giants racing to make their mark in India. 

It’s a sprint to the finish line

Everybody’s looking to get in on the ground floor, and it’s easy to see why. 

Only half of India’s ~1.37Bb people have internet access. Whoever can beef up the infrastructure and tap into the remaining 50% is in for a big payday – one prediction says mobile traffic in India is projected to triple by 2025.

The hottest player in the market is Reliance Jio, the country’s top telecarrier. In 6 weeks, Jio has raised a whopping $10B in a string of deals with companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and major private equity firms. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Jio will add another $1.2B investment, from a sovereign wealth fund in Abu Dhabi.

Google is reportedly eyeing a 5% stake in Vodafone, India’s No. 2 telecarrier, which had more than 332m subscribers as of 2019. 

For Amazon, India is prime real estate

Amazon’s Indian interests aren’t limited to the telecom sphere. The company has made a major effort to tap into India’s budding economy, investing $6.5B there to expand its ecommerce reach.

The pandemic underscores just how important the market is for Amazon. The company said the biggest impact on its international revenue came after the Indian government limited ecommerce to essentials only.

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