American technology company Amazon is reported to be in early discussions to purchase a stake worth at least $2 billion in Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel.
The proposed investment, if realized, would grant Amazon approximately 5% stake in the telecom operator based on its current market value. Bharti Airtel is India’s third-largest telecoms corporation with more than 300 million users. The negotiations between Amazon and Bharti come at a time when global players are putting major stakes on the digital arm of Reliance Industries, which controls Bharti’s telecom rival Jio.
Reliance’s digital unit has accumulated $10 billion in recent weeks from Facebook, KKR, and others. The discussions between Bharti and Amazon are at an early stage and the contract terms could change, or an understanding may not be reached.
An Amazon spokeswoman stated that the organization does “not offer comments on speculation of what we may or may not do in the future.” Bharti on the other hand stated that they frequently work with all digital players to bring their products, content, and services to customers. “Beyond that, there is no other activity to report.”
Amazon regards India as a significant growth market where it has invested close to $6.5 billion largely towards developing its e-commerce footprint. The Seattle-based company has in recent years also extended its digital offerings in India via its voice-activated speakers, video streaming, and cloud storage, as it seeks to draw on the rising number of internet and smartphone users in the country of 1.3 billion people.