Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms Ltd. has attracted more than half the $30 billion investment into telecom companies globally this year, on bets the wireless and digital services firm will disrupt India’s massive consumer market.
Ten firms including Facebook Inc., General Atlantic, Silver Lake Partners and KKR & Co. have poured a total $15.2 billion into Jio, pending regulatory clearances, Bloomberg data show. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was the latest to invest, according to a statement from Jio on Thursday.
The deals have helped Ambani, Asia’s richest man, make his flagship Reliance Industries Ltd. net debt free ahead of his March 2021 deadline. Jio, Reliance’s wireless unit, last year became India’s biggest telecom operator by subscribers and plans to use its roughly 400 million customers as the cornerstone of an e-commerce and digital business.
“Jio’s platform is in place and they want to monetize it, especially with WhatsApp for its digital ventures,” said Neerav Dalal, an analyst at Kim Eng Securities Pvt.
The value of telecom deals worldwide has declined about 52% this year as the pandemic makes investors risk averse.