Facebook will buy a 10% stake in the digital business of India’s Reliance Industries for $5.7 billion, as the social media firm looks to leverage its highly popular WhatsApp chat service to offer digital payment services.
Facebook’s investment will make it the largest minority shareholder in Jio Platforms Ltd, Jio said in a statement, putting the enterprise value of the business at around $66 billion. Jio Platforms holds a host of Reliance’s digital assets including Jio Infocomm.
In a statement announcing the investment Facebook Inc. said it would focus on collaborations between its messaging platform WhatsApp and Reliance Industries Limited’s e-commerce venture JioMart.
“Facebook is teaming up with Jio Platforms – we’re making a financial investment, and more than that, we’re committing to work together on some major projects that will open up commerce opportunities for people across India,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.
The deal, which makes Facebook the largest minority shareholder in Jio, comes after the government approved WhatsApp’s digital payment service, which will compete with the likes of Google Pay and Paytm.
In his post Mr Zuckerberg pointed out that small businesses – India has over 60 million of these – were the core of every economy and millions relied on them for employment.
“With communities around the world in lockdown, many of these entrepreneurs need digital tools they can rely on to find and communicate with customers and grow their businesses. This is something we can help with — and that’s why we’re partnering with Jio to help people and businesses in India create new opportunities,” he said.