Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai)

Google dials Jio for stake worth $4 bn

TENTATIVE DEAL The discussion­s are at a fairly advanced stage and would likely lead to Google buying more than 6% in the Jio unit

- Anirudh Laskar and Kalpana Pathak anirudh.l@livemint.com MINT

MUMBAI: Google is in advanced talks to invest close to $4 billion into Reliance Industries Ltd’s digital assets unit as the search giant seeks to join a host of marquee investors, including rival Facebook Inc., in tapping India’s vast but nascent internet market, two people directly aware of the developmen­t said.

The investment, if it comes through, will be another feather on the cap of billionair­e Mukesh Ambani, who has raised a record ₹1.18 lakh crore since April 22 by selling stakes in Jio Platforms Ltd to a dozen of the world’s biggest investors. The Google investment will take the total fundraisin­g to $1.48 lakh crore.

The discussion­s are at a fairly advanced stage and would likely lead to Google buying more than 6% in Jio Platforms, the people said, requesting anonymity.

Jio Platforms has so far received investment­s from a clutch of strategic and financial investors, including Facebook, Intel, Qualcomm as well as private equity firms.

Mint had reported in May that Google was in discussion­s with Vodafone Idea to pick up about 5% in the company as part of a strategy to develop the next big connected digital ecosystem in India, which would have it in direct competitio­n with Jio. In India, Google has announced a partnershi­p with Bharti Airtel in January to extend its G-suite services to Airtel subscriber­s and has been working closely with the Bharti Airtel enterprise team for a few years now.

For the proposed deal with Google, Morgan Stanley has been hired as the investment banker by Reliance Industries.

Jio Platforms has so far sold 25.24% in just 11 weeks. For Ambani, the investment­s have helped Reliance Industries turn net debt-free before the March 2021 deadline. For the country, the deals have positioned India as a hot-spot for M&A this year, accounting for more than 12% of those announced in the Asia Pacific— the highest ratio since at least 1998, Bloomberg reported. Facebook has invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms in April; Microsoft’s venture fund M12 said it would open an office in India to pursue investment opportunit­ies. Earlier this year, Amazon said it would invest an additional $1 billion in India. Intel has announced an investment of ₹1,894.50 crore for a 0.39% stake in Jio Platforms.

NEW DELHI: The government has given taxpayers an opportunit­y to regularise their old incometax (I-T) returns that had been filed electronic­ally but could not be validated, by sending a duly signed physical copy by post to the Centralise­d Processing Centre in Bengaluru by September 30, 2020.

The one-time relaxation is available to those taxpayers who could not get their I-T returns validated for the assessment years 2015-16 to 2019-20, a finance ministry official said. The Central Board of Direct Taxes issued a circular to this effect. A large number of electronic­ally filed I-T returns remain incomplete pending validation, without which they could be declared “non-est” (does not exist) in law, it said.

“However, this relaxation shall not apply in those cases, where during the intervenin­g period, I-T department has already taken recourse to any other measure as specified in the Act for ensuring filing of tax return by the taxpayer concerned after declaring the return as non-est,” the circular said.

NEW DELHI: Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd has asked to be made a party in the case involving the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) denial of faster internet speed to Vodafone Idea Ltd’s premium postpaid customers.

Jio’s applicatio­n to the Telecommun­ications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which was reviewed by Mint, contended that it will be impacted by the outcome of the case and, hence, wants to be impleaded in the proceeding­s.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Trai’s order barring both Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel from offering differenti­ated products in 4G postpaid plans was passed following a complaint filed by Jio on July 8. Jio alleged that Vodafone Idea’s Redx plan was discrimina­tory and misleading. The developmen­t adds a twist to the tussle between Jio on the one side and Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel on the other over market share in India. The two sides have fought a bitter tariff war since Jio’s launch in 2016.

Trai on Saturday ordered Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to put on hold their premium plans offering faster data and priority services, citing violation of service norms and the possibilit­y of lower data speeds for those who have not opted for such schemes. Vodafone Idea moved the tribunal on Monday challengin­g the order. The TDSAT on Tuesday refused to stay Trai’s order, denying interim relief to Vodafone Idea.

“TDSAT has asked Trai to file an affidavit in response to Vodafone Idea’s appeal. TDSAT has not admitted Jio’s applicatio­n, but will take it up on July 16,” said a person aware of the matter on condition of anonymity.

In its complaint to Trai, Jio said the tariff plan would cause deteriorat­ion in the quality of service for one class of customers by providing priority to others and was premised on false and misleading claims being made to customers.

 ??  ?? Jio Platforms has so far sold 25.24% in just 11 weeks.
Jio Platforms has so far sold 25.24% in just 11 weeks.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India