Google, the internet giant is looking to buy up to 5 per cent stake in debt-laden Vodafone Idea, the Financial Times reported Thursday. Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc is also looking to buy some stake in Vodafone Idea’s rival Reliance Jio Infocomm, according to the sources.
The report comes almost a month after social media giant Facebook picked up 9.9 per cent stake for Rs.43,574 crore ($5.7 billion) in Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL) Jio Platforms. Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIL, has since seen investments from global private equity players such as General Atlantic, Silver Lake Partners, Silver Lake Partners and KKR.
Following a Supreme Court judgment on October 24 2019, Vodafone Group’s chief executive officer Nick Read had said that the company, which holds 49 per cent stake in Vodafone Idea, would not commit any more equity in India as the “country effectively contributed zero value to the company’s share price”.
Vodafone Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla had said that it might have to shut shop if there was no AGR relief from the government, as it did not make sense to “put good money after bad”.
A potential deal between Google and Vodafone Idea will heat up competition in one of the world’s largest and fastest growing data consumption markets, experts said. As of January 31, 2020, India had a total of 115.6 crore wireless telephone subscribers, with a net addition of up to 50 lakh users per month, according to data from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).