General Atlantic (GA) is said to be negotiating an $850 million to $950 million deal for a stake in the Indian telecom company Reliance Jio, Bloomberg said in a report on Friday (May 8), citing sources acquainted with the negotiations.
GA is the latest in a series of investors lining up to put money into the Mumbai-based company Jio, which is a division of the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL). Vista Equity recently invested $1.5 billion in the startup for a 2.32 percent equity stake, while private equity firm Silver Lake backed Jio with $750 million. Facebook invested $5.7 billion in April for a 10 percent stake.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is also considering a minority stake in Jio. The tentative deal with GA could close this month, the sources told Bloomberg.
Jio is striving to create a “digital society” for 1.3 billion people and businesses throughout India by “bringing together Jio’s leading digital apps, digital ecosystems, and India’s high-speed connectivity platform under one umbrella,” RIL said in a statement.
Launched in 2017 and valued at $65 billion, Jio is the country’s largest mobile network operator, with over 388 million subscribers. The unicorn was launched by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, who serves as chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd., the biggest firm in India by capitalization.
Reliance has invested over $30 billion developing Reliance Jio and is striving to be net debt-free by 2021.
In January, Reliance Jio announced that it was entering the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) space to compete alongside rivals. Jio already has a wallet service called JioMoney. It wants to be the first telecom operator to offer a UPI service, and the second among payment banks to offer the service. The UPI option is integrated into Reliance Jio’s main app MyJio, alongside popular additions like JioCinema, JioCloud, and JioTV.