Amazon is unequivocally one of the biggest companies on the face of the Earth. Thus, if one of its competitor, let’s say Facebook, was to become the first of its kind to invest in an Indian telecom company, like Reliance Jio, you better expect it to follow suite. Now, Amazon is allegedly in talks with Bharti Airtel, one of India’s largest Telecom operators, to buy $2 billion worth of stake in the company, Reuters reports.
If the deal, as it is being reported were to go through, Amazon might end up with about 5% stake in Bharti Airtel. However, one of the people in contact with Reuters suggests that Amazon is very interested in the prospects that Airtel provides, and might end up buying as much as 8-10% stake in the company. However, another one suggests that the talks are still in infancy, and it is possible that no deal is made.
Before Reliance Jio came along, Vodafone and Bharti Airtel ruled the Indian telecom market. However, with lucrative offers and one of the cheapest data rates in the world, Jio did not just snatch away their clients but also changed the entire market. Now, the company has transcended the status quo of a “Telecom company” and has become a full fledged technology platform. Airtel expects to catch up with it, and a possible partnership with Amazon can go a long way.
For Amazon, this will be yet another market ripe for the taking, and Jeff Bezos is always up for a challenge.“ Airtel is looking to play a catch-up game here, and for Amazon it makes all the strategic directional sense for the India business,” Reuters reports. Airtel also has a significant presence across the African continent, and is the top telecom company in many of those countries. The company also runs a successful digital payments arm in both India and Africa, making it eve more lucrative for a possible amazon investment.
An Amazon spokesperson told Reuters that the company does “not offer comments on speculation of what we may or may not do in future.”
Just a little while ago, Reliance Jio, the leading telecom provider in the company, raised closed to $9 billion from global investment firms, including a $5.7 billion deal that netted Facebook 9.99% stake in the company. The deal values the three year old company at a hefty $65.95 billion, a remarkable achievement. Afterwards, talks about a possible investment from Microsoft in Jio, and Google’s interest in Vodafone (the second largest operator in the country), started doing the rounds. However, it seems like Amazon might become the one to snatch the limelight.
Airtel has been struggling ever since Jio arrived, just like every other company in the country. However, with the mere possibility of a merger with Amazon, shares in Bharti closed 3.8% higher after rising as much as 6% on news of the Amazon talks.
Still, if a partnership were to happen, the road ahead won’t be easy. Reliance Jio practically already has a monopoly in the market, and with the $10 billion fresh capital it is sitting on, the future for Airtel is tough, if not uncertain. But one shouldn’t forget Airtel’s significant business across Africa,