The social media giant on Wednesday revealed plans to invest nearly $6 billion in Jio Platforms, the digital technology arm of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, in an investment that will give it a stake of almost 10% in the company and a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing online markets.
Reliance announced Facebook will buy a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms for approximately $5.7 billion, becoming its largest minority shareholder. Separately, Facebook said the deal would bring together JioMart, an e-commerce venture of Ambani and its WhatsApp platform, to enable people to connect with businesses.
“India is a special place for us,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a video posted on Facebook. “We’re also committing to work together on some critical projects that we think are going to open up a lot of opportunities for commerce in India.”
The deal, Facebook’s biggest outside investment since its 2014 purchase of WhatsApp, gives the company a runway to expand in a country that is rapidly embracing online payment and e-commerce as more people get smartphones.
Jio Platforms has several services under its umbrella, including Reliance Jio, a mobile network that has signed up nearly 390 million subscribers since launching three and a half years ago. Reliance also has a retail arm, potentially paves the way for Facebook to monetize WhatsApp's 340 million users in India.
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