Facebook teams up with Reliance Jio
Facebook is set to spend $5.7 billion to buy a 9.99% stake in Reliance Industries’ digital arm, as it looks to roll out services for India’s grocers and small businesses by capitalizing on WhatsApp’s extensive reach in the country.
The deal announced on Wednesday is Facebook’s biggest since its $22 billion buyout of WhatsApp in 2014 and will give the Menlo Park, California-based firm a stake in Jio Platforms – the digital services entity that houses Reliance’s telecoms arm Jio Infocomm, as well as its news, movie and music apps, along with other businesses.
The transaction is also the eighth largest deal in Asia this year based on deal value, according to Refinitiv data, and comes at a time when the coronavirus outbreak has stifled mergers and acquisitions activity globally.
To kick off the partnership, Facebook’s WhatsApp messenger, which counts India as its biggest market with about 400 million users, will help fuel the growth of Jio’s new retail venture, JioMart, the two companies said.
JioMart, the e-commerce venture of Reliance’s retail arm, offers customers free express grocery deliveries from neighbourhood mum-and-pop stores. It is yet to be launched across India, and is likely to pose a formidable challenge to Amazon.com’s local unit and Walmart’s Flipkart, which are also betting big on groceries to grow.
For Reliance, the deal will help the oil-to-retail group, which bet over $30 billion on the Jio telecoms venture, reduce its debt load.