Google may invest $4 billion in Jio, says report

A day after Google said that it was creating a $10 billion fund for India, there is a report that the company is looking to invest $4 billion in Reliance Jio.

A day after Google announced that it was forming an India-specific fund called India Digitization Fund and spending of Rs 75,000 crore (around $10 billion) in the country over 5-7 years, there is a report that the tech giant is looking to invest in Jio. The report notes that Google may invest $4 billion in Jio.

The news comes from Bloomberg-Quint. It hints that the official announcement of the deal between Jio and Google is likely to be made within weeks.

If the deal is indeed in the works, it is currently not clear if the $4 billion that Google spends on it is going to be part of the $10 billion commitment that Google has made for India or if it will be in addition to that.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday wrote in a blog, "Today, I'm excited to announce the Google for India Digitization Fund. Through this effort, we will invest Rs 75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years. We'll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy."

In the last couple of months, Jio has become a hot property and has attracted investment from a number of companies. The biggest of these investments has been from Facebook, which earlier spent 5.7 billion to acquire around 10 per cent 9.9 per cent to be precise stake in Jio. For Facebook, the Jio deal is its attempt to combine the Jio network and reach with its popular apps, most particularly Facebook, and then turn the platform into an e-commerce entity with focus on hyper-local retail.

Jio too has plans for hyper-local retain through apps, similar to what WeChat in China has, and can utilise WhatsApp for good effect.

If the talk of the deal between Jio and Google is accurate, it seems that Google too wants to ride the reach and network of Jio. Google already has Google Pay, which is quite popular in India, as well as several programmes aimed at digitisation the business of local retail shops. It is possible that Google and Jio may combine their resources and platform in an attempt to create a similar kind of digital retail system that WeChat has in China, and which Jio and Facebook are also trying to make.