Google to invest $1B in Airtel, infuse 700 Million USD as equity investment

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Bharti Airtel and Google, on Friday, announced that they will partner on a long-term, multi-year agreement to accelerate the growth of India’s digital ecosystem. As part of this partnership, Google intends to invest up to $1B, as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund, which includes equity investment as well as a corpus for potential commercial agreements over the course of the next five years.

“Airtel is a leading pioneer shaping India’s digital future, and we are proud to partner on a shared vision for expanding connectivity and ensuring equitable access to the Internet for more Indians. Our commercial and equity investment in Airtel is a continuation of our Google for India Digitization Fund’s efforts to increase access to smartphones, enhance connectivity to support new business models, and help companies on their digital transformation journey.”

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet

Google will make a $700M equity investment in Bharti Airtel at a price per share of INR 734. And up to $300M will go towards implementing commercial agreements, which will include investments in scaling Airtel’s offerings that cover a range of devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs as well as other offerings aimed at accelerating access and digital inclusion across India’s digital ecosystem.

It is expected that this partnership will help accelerate digital adoption in India as Airtel serves over one million small and medium businesses with its enterprise connectivity offering. Both companies will also focus on shaping and growing the cloud ecosystem in India to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. 

“Airtel and Google share the vision to grow India’s digital dividend through innovative products. With our future ready network, digital platforms, last mile distribution and payments ecosystem, we look forward to working closely with Google to increase the depth and breadth of India’s digital ecosystem.”

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel

As a part of its first commercial agreement, Airtel and Google will work together to build on Airtel’s extensive offerings that cover a range of Android-enabled devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs. In partnership with various device manufacturers, the companies will continue to explore further opportunities to bring down the barriers of owning a smartphone across a range of price points. 

Both the companies will work to bring best-in-class end-to-end products to serve customer needs and provide a quality customer experience. And will bring their expertise to solve problems of affordability, access, and digital inclusion. As a part of the larger strategic goals of the association, both companies will also potentially co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards. 

In July 2020, Google’s CEO, Sunder Pichai announced the company’s plan to promote digitization in India through capital investments. Pichai, in his statement (then), said, ‘I’m excited to announce the Google for India Digitization Fund. Through this effort, we will invest ₹75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years. We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy.’

Airtel is already using Google’s 5G-ready Evolved Packet Core & Software Defined Network platforms and plans to explore scaling up the deployment of Google’s network virtualization solutions to deliver a superior network experience to their customers.

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