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New Delhi: Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Sons Ltd, has made a personal investment in Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp., the company said on Sunday without disclosing the amount.

This is the first investment by any Indian into Xiaomi, one of the world’s most valuable start-ups. In December 2014, Xiaomi raised $1.1 billion at a valuation of $45 billion from investors such as Yuri Milner’s DST, GIC and All-Star Investment.

“Mr Tata is one of the most well-respected business leaders in the world. An investment by him is an affirmation of the strategy we have undertaken in India so far. This is just the start of an exciting journey, and we are looking forward to bringing more products into India," said Lei Jun, founder and chief executive of Xiaomi.

The firm did not reveal whether this could lead to a potential business tie-up with Tata Group. “India is a big focus area for us after China and we approached Mr Tata to act as an advisor and mentor for our India business," said Manu Jain, Xiaomi’s India head. “Xiaomi is a cash-rich company but the idea behind this investment is to seek Mr Tata’s advice in helping us tweak our business model for India."

Xiaomi (pronounced shiao-me) entered India in July 2014 and is already the fifth largest smartphone vendor in the country according to International Data Corp.’s fourth-quarter report. The firm, which sells directly to customers through online retailers and with minimal marketing spending in order to keep its prices competitive, was founded in 2010 by Lei, Bin Lin, De Liu, Chuan Wang, Feng Hong, Jiangji Wong, Guangping Zhou and Wanqiang Li.

Xiaomi doubled revenue last year and more than tripled shipments of smartphones to 61.1 million units. Sales are projected to rise to as much as 120 billion yuan ($19 billion) this year, up from 74.3 billion yuan in 2014, Bloomberg reported last week.

“Xiaomi is one of the fastest-growing companies in the world. It has brought its innovative business model and high-quality products to India with huge success," Tata commented on the investment.

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