Facebook announced Tuesday that it would invest $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms, India’s popular mobile internet service that brought hundreds of millions in the country online in three years.
The multi-billion-dollar stake makes Facebook the largest minority shareholder in the internet service, which is a part of Reliance Industries Limited.
“This investment underscores our commitment to India, and our excitement for the dramatic transformation that Jio has spurred in the country,” Facebook said in a statement. “In less than four years, Jio has brought more than 388 million people online, fueling the creation of innovative new enterprises and connecting people in new ways.”
The Financial Times first reported that Facebook was eyeing the investment back in late March, as Reliance’s burden of debt grew after expanding Jio. The Facebook-Jio deal is part of an effort aimed at relieving the company of its debt by March of next year, according to The Financial Times report.
Facebook said one focus of the collaboration will be to create “new ways for people and businesses to operate more effectively in the growing digital economy,” like supplementing Jio’s small business initiative with the “power of WhatsApp” to help businesses and shop connect on a larger scale.
“They account for the majority of jobs in the country, and form the heart and soul of rural and urban communities alike,” the statement read. “In the face of the coronavirus, it is important that we both combat this global pandemic now, and lay the groundwork to help people and businesses in the years to come.”