Silver Lake announced on Monday it will be investing 56.56 billion Indian rupees (about $746.8 million) in Jio Platforms for about 1.15% stake in the Indian telecom network, giving it a valuation of $65 billion, a 12.5% premium to the value implied by the Facebook investment.
The Menlo Park-headquartered PE firm, which has approximately $40 billion in combined assets and committed capital, has invested in dozens of tech firms over the years including video game engine maker Unity, Skype, consultancy firm Gartner, Alibaba’s Ant Financial, and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, several of it in recent weeks.
This year, Silver Lake has invested in Expedia, Twitter (in which it invested $1 billion), Airbnb, Waymo, and ServiceMax. This is the second investment Silver Lake is making in an Indian firm. In 2013, it invested in Bangalore-based commodity trading and risk management software firm Eka.
Reliance Jio Platforms, which began its commercial operation in the second half of 2016, upended the local telecom market by offering bulk of 4G data and voice calls for six months to users at no charge. A subsidiary of Reliance Industries (India’s most valuable firm by market value), Jio Platforms has amassed 388 million subscribers since its launch to become the nation’s top telecom operator.
“Jio Platforms is one of the world’s most remarkable companies, led by an incredibly strong and entrepreneurial management team who are driving and actualizing a courageous vision. They have brought extraordinary engineering capabilities to bear on bringing the power of low-cost digital services to a mass consumer and small businesses population. The market potential they are addressing is enormous, and we are honored and pleased to have been invited to partner with Mukesh Ambani and the team at Reliance and Jio to help further the Jio mission,” said Egon Durban, co-chief executive and managing partner at Silver Lake, in a statement.
Jio Platforms, previously known as just Jio, also owns a suite of services including music streaming service JioSaavn (which has plans to become a public company), smartphones, broadband business, on-demand live television service JioTV, and payments service JioPay.
In a statement, Mukesh Ambani, who oversees Reliance Industries, said, “Silver Lake has an outstanding record of being a valuable partner for leading technology companies globally. Silver Lake is one of the most respected voices in technology and finance. We are excited to leverage insights from their global technology relationships for the Indian Digital Society’s transformation.”
In the company’s earnings call last week, Ambani said several firms had expressed interest in buying a stake in Jio Platforms, in which he has invested over $30 billion, in wake of the deal with Facebook.
Facebook said that other than offering the capital to Jio Platforms for a 9.99% stake in the firm, it would work with the Indian giant on a number of areas starting with e-commerce.
Days later, JioMart, an e-commerce venture run by India’s most valued firm, began testing an “ordering system” on WhatsApp, the most popular smartphone app in India with over 400 million active users in the world’s second largest internet market.
The deals with Facebook and Silver Lake should help Ambani reiterate his last year’s commitment to investors when he said he aims to cut the Reliance’s net debt to zero by early 2021.