According to a new report by Reuters, Amazon is looking to snap up a stake in India’s third-largest mobile operator, Bharti Airtel. Amazon is still in early-stage stalks and the value of the deal is said to be worth at least $2 billion. This report comes on the heels Facebook acquiring a 10% stake in Reliance Jio last month, and a report that states even Google is mulling of acquiring a stake in Vodafone Idea.
A $2 billion investment roughly translates into a 5% stake in Bharti Airtel, given its current market value. But since the deal is still at an early stage, the deal terms could change, and there is a possibility that an agreement may not be reached.
The news of this possible deal comes at a time when Reliance Jio – the largest telecom company in India – has been attracting investments from companies around the world. In the last month or so, Reliance Jio has attracted 5 major investments worth INR 78,562 Crore from Facebook and KKR, amongst other companies.
The telecom sector in the industry was in a precarious position before the start of the COVID-19-induced lockdowns. But the increase in reliance on mobile data has proven to be the knight in shining armour for telcos who have seen an increase in ARPU since data consumption is on a rise. The Reliance-Facebook deal was claimed by many industry experts to have a positive impact on the industry in terms of valuation and raising fresh funds.
In fact, this is what a Vodafone Idea executive told Business Standard:
“The Reliance-Facebook deal will encourage other telcos to seek similar tie-ups, given that the tide is turning for the sector. Besides, telecom players will also benefit from the rising demand for data in the post-Corona world, and at least 10 per cent rise in tariffs during the second half of the current financial year.”
Amazon considers India to be an important market and has committed $6.5 billion in investments to expand its presence across verticals such as e-commerce, OTT, and grocery delivery.