Amazon, the US based e-commerce giant is said to be in early discussions with one of India’s largest telecom operators, Bharti Airtel for a stake worth US$2 billion, Reuters said in a report. The publication citing three sources “with knowledge of the matter” said that the deal upon completion would translate to Amazon acquiring 5% stake in Bharti Airtel. Crucially, the sources have told Reuters that the talks being in early stages “could change, or an agreement may not be reached.” According to the latest data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Bharti Airtel is the third largest telecom provider with a market share of 28.38% in India.
Bharti Says No Activity to Report
Bharti Airtel in a statement to Reuters said that it routinely works with digital players to introduce their products to Airtel’s consumers. Further, Bharti Airtel has highlighted in its statement to Reuters “that there is no other activity to report.”
A spokesperson for Amazon has told the publication that the company does “not offer comments on speculation of what we may or may not do in future.”
Ever since Reliance Jio announced the deal with Facebook in April, reports of US tech giants being interested in Indian telecom operators has seen a rapid increase.
KKR, General Atlantic and Vista Equity Partners are other players who have invested in Jio platforms in the past month.
It was recently reported that Google was eyeing a 5% stake in Vodafone Idea. The report was significant as the British telecom company, Vodafone highlighted in its earnings call that no fresh equity will be injected into its Indian venture. However, Vodafone Idea in a filing with the stock exchanges said that “there is no proposal as reported” in the media.
Amazon Committed US$6.5 Billion Investments in India
In early January, Amazon said that it would invest US$1 billion to digitize micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and traders across India. The company had previously pumped in over US$5 billion in investments over the years.
While much of Amazon’s investment was towards expanding its e-commerce footprint, it has to be noted that Facebook's deal with Reliance was also more towards tapping the commerce business through the JioMart platform.