Briefing

Facebook seeks stake in Indian wireless carrier Reliance Jio

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The social media giant was reportedly close to a preliminary agreement to acquire 10 per cent of the telecommunications company, but further progress may be delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Google has also had talks. (Financial Times)

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Talking point: Jio’s pricing at its September 2016 launch forced India’s existing carriers to dramatically lower data fees, and it signed up tens of millions of users by offering free connections for their first seven months. Reliance is one of India’s biggest business conglomerates, and Mukesh Ambani, head of its controlling family, is by far India’s richest person; even so, the giveaways added to the group’s debts, although the company has also forced competitors to consolidate or risk going bust. Facebook’s profits could provide a source of cash as Reliance uses the consumer data it’s acquired from Jio to launch an e-commerce platform. But the two companies have also clashed over Ambani’s support for requiring companies to store Indian users’ data within the country’s borders.