Jio defies challenging market conditions with unprecedented investments pouring in, says GlobalData

Jio Platforms Limited (Jio) has been a notable exception for being able to garner unprecedented back-to-back investments during these challenging times. The investments spree that started with Facebook on 22 April 2020 also saw many other foreign investors ranging from tech giants to big private equity firms (PE) evincing interest in Jio. The cumulative value of such investments announced between April 22 and July 15 2020 stood at US$19.9bn, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The US$19.9bn investment is gigantic and helped Jio become debt free much ahead of its set deadline of March 2021 but what makes these investments even more impressive is the fact that it has come at the time when businesses worldwide are reeling under the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.”

The investments spree in Jio this year is also special in many other ways. In one of the rare instances, Facebook as well its rival Google were seen placing gigantic bets in one company.

These investments also came at a time when the Indian government is trying to curb Chinese investments and has also imposed ban on 59 Chinese apps. Interestingly, none of these investments in Jio involved any Chinese investor.

Out of these 14 investments, 11 came from American firms. This also assumes more significance now that Jio has been included in the list of ‘Clean Telcos’ by the US for rejecting to do business with Chinese firms.

Bose adds: “These investments also indicate that Jio has some big plans and these investments are testimony of investors seeing the potential in Jio to emerge as a tech giant in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. While these may look like just some big ticket transactions, these deals also bring in technology expertise (from tech giants) along with financial support for Jio.”

Jio’s 5G ambitions are likely to get a push from its association with Qualcomm, which is considered a leader in the technology. The company has already announced that it has built a complete 5G solution on its own and on July 17, it sought spectrum of certain frequencies from the department of telecom in India to run 5G field trials. Moreover, Jio’s American subsidiary, Radisys has already begun selling 5G solutions to companies abroad.

Similarly, Google, which was the latest to join the league of investors backing Jio, is likely to develop an Android operating system for affordable smartphones designed by Reliance (Jio’s parent company).

A deep dive into GlobalData’s Job Analytics database also reveals that Jio posted jobs for ‘software engineers in front end android development’ and ‘specialists telecom security 5G’ on 17 July and 3 July respectively. These job postings also signal towards Jio’s android and 5G ambitions.

Bose concludes: “With big investments pouring in along with the backing from tech giants, Jio now has all the financial and technical support to pursue its growth ambitions and it would be interesting to see if Jio is the next Alibaba or Tencent in the making.”

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