Amazon.com is in early-stage talks to buy roughly 5 percent stake — worth at least $2 billion — in Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel, Reuters reported.
The planned investment would give India’s third-largest telecoms operator a boost as it seeks to compete against the number one player Reliance Jio. Reliance Jio is promoted by Mukesh Ambani. Airtel is promoted by Sunil Mittal.
The talks between Bharti and Amazon are at an early stage and the deal terms could change, or an agreement may not be reached, the report said. Amazon has committed $6.5 billion in investments mainly toward expanding its e-commerce footprint.
If talks to buy a stake fail, the companies could also look at a commercial transaction that could give Bharti Airtel’s customers cheap access to Amazon products.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does “not offer comments on speculation of what we may or may not do in future.”
Airtel said they routinely work with all digital players to bring their products, content and services to customers. “Beyond that there is no other activity to report,” it said in a statement.
Over the past six weeks, Jio, the digital arm of Reliance Industries, has raised $10 billion from global investors including Facebook as it seeks to establish itself as a one-stop digital commerce platform.
Google is also exploring an investment in Vodafone Idea, the Financial Times reported last week. Vodafone Idea is the second-largest telecoms company in India.
The Seattle-based company has expanded its digital offerings in India via its voice-activated speakers, video streaming and cloud storage, as it seeks to tap a rising number of internet and smartphone users in the country of 1.3 billion people.
A deal with Bharti could help Amazon expand offerings via its smart speakers and also boost its cloud business as access to Bharti Airtel’s vast telecom fibre network could help Amazon lower costs. Reliance’s Jio has already partnered with Microsoft for use of its Azure cloud platform.