Amazon.com is in early-stage talks to buy a stake worth at least $2 billion in Bharti Airtel, three people with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters, in a move that could turbocharge India’s digital economy.
The talks between Bharti and Amazon are at an early stage and the deal terms could change, or an agreement may not be reached, said two of the three people, all of whom declined to be identified because the discussions are confidential.
If talks to buy a stake fail, the companies could also look at a commercial transaction that could give Bharti’s customers cheap access to Amazon products, one of the people said.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does “not offer comments on speculation of what we may or may not do in future.” Bharti 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. The discussions between Amazon and Bharti underscore the attraction of India’s digital economy for US tech giants.
Over the past six weeks, Jio, the digital arm of Reliance Industries raised $10 billion from global investors including Facebook as it seeks to establish itself as a one-stop digital commerce platform. Alphabet Inc’s Google is also exploring an investment in Vodafone Idea, a joint venture between Britain’s Vodafone Group Plc and Idea Cellular, the media reported last week.
Amazon counts India as a crucial growth market where it has committed $6.5 billion in investments mainly toward expanding its e-commerce footprint.