Reuters reported that Amazon is in early talks to buy a roughly 5% stake in Indian telecom player Bharti Airtel for around $2 billion.
The news of Amazon vying for a stake in the Indian telecom sector makes it the third big US platform player to show interest in the Indian telecom sector. Earlier, after Facebook announced a deal with Reliance Jio platforms, Google has been rumored to be mulling a stake in Vodafone-Idea.
Watch: Amazon in talks to acquire stake in Bharti Airtel
However, Airtel refused to directly deny any ongoing talks with Jeff Bezos promoted internet giant.
We routinely work with all digital and OTT players and have deep engagement with them to bring their products, content, and services for our wide customer base. Beyond that, there is no other activity to report.Airtel Spokesperson
The news saw Bharti Airtel’s shares end the day on a 6% high.
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With more than 600 million internet users, India is the most exciting market for western as well as eastern tech giants. Amazon, which already has massive investments in India, one of its most lucrative markets, will have access to Airtel’s 300 million subscribers if the deal goes through. Furthermore, Bezos has also earmarked $1 billion to help small businesses in the country, an initiative he announced during his trip to India in January 2020.
Airtel, India’s oldest running telecom player, has sustained itself for 25 years in a cut-throat regulatory environment. Promoter Sunil Bharti Mittal has been under pressure ever since Airtel lost the top spot to Ambani’s Jio which shook up the market with its pricing and penetration after launching in 2016. Furthermore, Bharti Airtel was hit with a $3 billion jolt after the Indian Supreme Court ordered it to pay due fees to the telecom operator in retrospect after a harsh policy change. After Facebook-Jio deal, worth $5.7 billion in April, Google was reported to have shown an interest in a chunk of Vodafone Idea’s India business, as per Financial Times. Apart from the three, Microsoft is also rumored to be in the mix, also eyeing a stake in Jio Platforms.