UPDATED 16:39 EDT / JANUARY 28 2022


Google will invest up to $1B in India’s Bharti Airtel

Google LLC today announced plans to invest up to $1 billion in Bharti Airtel Ltd., one of India’s largest telecommunications providers.

The search giant will make the investment through the $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund that it launched in 2020. Google previously purchased a 7.73% stake in mobile network operator Jio Platforms Ltd., Bharti Airtel’s top competitor, for $4.5 billion as part of a transaction announced last year. 

The investment in Bharti Airtel has two main components. First, Google will purchase $700 million worth of shares in the company at a price of 734 rupees, or about $9.77, per share. Additionally, Google plans to invest up to $300 million more to support the implementation of multiple commercial agreements with Bharti Airtel.

“As a part of our first commercial agreement under this deal, we will work to scale Airtel’s extensive offerings that cover a range of devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs,” Google executives Sanjay Gupta and Jamie Rosenberg detailed in a blog post today. 

Cloud computing and 5G are also on the agenda. Google and Bharti Airtel “plan to co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards” the executives wrote in the blog post. The companies will “also focus on shaping and growing the cloud ecosystem in India by helping accelerate the digital transformation journeys of small and medium businesses across the country,” they added.

The carrier market has become a bigger focus for Google’s cloud business over the last few quarters, mirroring a broader industry trend. Last October, Google Cloud introduced a platform called Google Distributed Cloud Edge that carriers can use to build edge computing solutions for customers.

The search giant’s activities in the carrier market also extend to other areas. Google last year teamed up with Jio Platforms to launch a smartphone featuring a custom version of Android. 

Other tech giants have also increased their presence in India’s telecommunications market over the last two years. In July 2020, Intel Corp. announced plans to make a $250 million investment in Jio Platforms. A month later, Amazon Web Services Inc. and Bharti Airtel launched a partnership to grow the carrier’s cloud computing business. The companies said at the time that the partnership’s focus areas include, among others, data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. 

Photo: Google

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