Microsoft Corp. is negotiating an investment of as much as $2 billion in billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms Ltd, the digital unit of India’s most valuable company, said two people aware of the discussions.
“Microsoft has been in discussions with several players in the digital payments services space. With Reliance, Microsoft is interested in buying more than a 2.5% stake in Jio Platforms," one of the two people cited above said, seeking anonymity.
If the negotiations are successful, the world’s most valuable company will get a slice of Jio Platforms that has already attracted investments worth $10 billion in just a month from marquee investors, including Facebook Inc., KKR & Co., Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners and General Atlantic.
While Microsoft has shown a keen interest in cementing its partnership with Jio Platforms by buying a stake in the company, there is no guarantee that the investment will go through, the second person said, also requesting anonymity.
In February, Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella said the company has forged a partnership with Reliance Jio. As part of the deal, Reliance Jio plans to set up data centres across the country and use Microsoft Azure’s cloud services for enterprise clients.
While a Microsoft spokesperson said the company does not “have any information to share here", an email sent to Reliance Industries did not elicit a response.
Foreign investors are making a beeline for Jio Platforms as they seek to tap India’s fast-growing digital market. Jio Platforms combines all of Reliance’s digital and telecom initiatives, including Jio digital services (mobile, broadband), apps, tech capabilities (artificial intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, etc.,) and other investments such as in Den Networks, Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd.
The latest investment by KKR was announced on 22 May. The buyout firm agreed to pay ₹11,367 crore for a 2.32% stake in Jio Platforms, in what would be KKR’s single-largest investment in Asia so far. The deals have fetched Jio Platforms a valuation of around ₹4.91 trillion.
Facebook’s April announcement that it would invest $5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake in Jio was quickly followed by $750 million from Silver Lake and $1.5 billion from Vista Equity Partners. On 17 May, Jio Platforms said it was raising $870 million from General Atlantic.