Google is to invest $4.5bn in Indian media giant Reliance Industries, including acquiring a stake in its digital platforms.
The YouTube owner will be buying a 7.7% interest in Reliance’s Jio Platforms, the company’s digital unit which contains music and movie apps, as well as its telecoms business Jio Infocomm.
The latter is the largest mobile carrier in the country, with a total of 387 million customers out of 500 million total internet users.
Reliance is India’s highest-valued company, controlled by billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani – the world’s sixth richest man. Ambani has sold 33% of the unit since April 2019, with Facebook also purchasing a 9.99% stake for $5.7bn.
Reliance said that Google will improve its tech plans which include developing voice assistants, building smart homes and creating an Android-based operating system for a planned low-cost 5G smartphone.
Sameer Samat, VP for Android and Play at Google, told Reuters: “We want to ensure smartphones along with apps and services in the Play store are within reach for many more Indians. Given the pace of innovation in India, we felt like now was the right time to dramatically increase our commitment.”
The investment comes as a part of a pledged $10bn from Google to invest in the country.
The announcement was made during Reliance’s earnings call in which the company also unveiled an upgraded version of its Jio Set Top Box and the launch of its Jio TV+ content aggregation platform.
The company said that Jio TV+ would aggregate content from 12 leading global OTT platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Hotstar and Sony Liv.