Facebook Inc. FB has invested $5.7 billion in Indian internet services company Jio Platforms Ltd., the company announced Tuesday.
The Facebook investment values Jio at about $65.95 billion pre-money enterprise value, the latter said in a statement.
The social media giant's 9.99% stake in the company makes it the largest minority shareholder in the company, Jio noted.
"We're making a financial investment, and more than that, we're committing to work together on some major projects that will open up commerce opportunities for people across India," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
"The country is in the middle of a major digital transformation and organizations like Jio have played a big part in getting hundreds of millions of Indian people and small businesses online."
Zuckerberg added that Facebook and Jio would work together to bring small businesses in the country online.
Facebook chief revenue officer David Fischer and Managing Director for India, Ajit Mohan, noted that a potential collaboration between the two companies could be seen in "JioMart."
JioMart is a joint initiative between two Reliance Industries Ltd. subsidiaries, including Jio and its retail arm, which intends to bring India's small businesses online.
"With the power of WhatsApp, we can enable people to connect with businesses, shop and ultimately purchase products in a seamless mobile experience," the two executives said.
Why It Matters
Jio Platforms, founded by Asia's second-richest man Mukesh Ambani, started operating commercially in India in late 2016 with its mobile network that has since seized the largest market share in the country.
The network is particularly known for bringing about 388 million Indians online with its radically low data prices.
Facebook has its largest user base in India by far, according to data from Statista.
The social media company has long been looking to expand further in the country, including launching a "Free Basics" program back in 2015.
The program that aimed to give free access to certain applications to users, who couldn't otherwise afford internet, was withdrawn a few months later after it received widespread criticism and regulatory scrutiny for violating net neutrality.
Facebook shares closed 4.2% lower at $170.80 on Tuesday. The shares traded 2.6% higher in the after-hours session at $175.15.
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