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Vista Equity to invest $1.5 billion in Reliance’s digital arm

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NEW DELHI: India’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Friday announced a $1.5 billion (Rs 11,367) stake sale in digital unit Jio Platforms, a third deal in a little over two weeks that will inject a combined $8 billion in the telecoms-to-energy group to help it pare debt.

Private equity firm Vista Equity Partners is buying a 2.3% stake in Jio Platforms, the unit that houses Reliance’s telecoms venture Jio Infocomm, for 113.67 billion rupees ($1.5 billion), Mumbai-headquartered Reliance said in a statement.

The deals, along with its plan to sell $7 billion in new shares, will help Reliance meet its target of eliminating $21.4 billion of net debt by the end of the year.

This investment values Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore. Vista’s investment will translate into a 2.32% equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis, making Vista the largest investor in Jio Platforms behind Reliance Industries and Facebook. Jio Platforms has now raised Rs 60,596.37 crore from leading technology investors in less than three weeks.

Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, is a next-generation technology company building a Digital Society for India by bringing together Jio’s leading digital apps, digital ecosystems and India’s #1 high speed connectivity platform under one umbrella. Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, which provides connectivity platform to over 388 million subscribers, will continue to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jio Platforms.

Jio’s vision is to enable a Digital India for 1.3 billion people and businesses throughout India, especially small merchants, micro-businesses and farmers. Jio has brought transformational changes in the Indian digital services space and propelled India on the path towards becoming a global technology leader and among the leading digital economies in the world.

Vista is a leading global investment firm focused on empowering and growing enterprise software, data and technology enabled companies that are reinventing industries and catalyzing change. Vista has more than $57 billion in cumulative capital commitments and its global network of companies collectively represent the 5th largest enterprise software company in the world. With 20 years of investing experience exclusively in enterprise software, Vista believes the transformative power of technology is the key to an even better future — a healthier planet, a smarter economy, a diverse and inclusive community, and a broader path to prosperity. Currently, Vista portfolio companies have a significant presence in India with over 13,000 employees.

This investment by Vista, which exclusively focuses on enterprise software, data and technology enabled companies, is further testament to the world-class digital platform that Jio has built, powered by leading technologies, such as Broadband connectivity, Smart Devices, Cloud and Edge Computing, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Augmented and Mixed Reality and Blockchain.

Commenting on the transaction with Vista, Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Ltd, said, “I am delighted to welcome Vista, one of the world’s marquee tech investors globally as a valued partner. Like our other partners, Vista also shares with us the same vision of continuing to grow and transform the Indian digital ecosystem for the benefit of all Indians. They believe in the transformative power of technology to be the key to an even better future for everyone. In Robert and Brian, whose family hails from Gujarat, I found two outstanding global technology leaders who believe in India and the transformative potential of a Digital Indian Society. We are excited to leverage the professional expertise and multi-level support that Vista has been offering to its investments globally for the benefit of Jio.”

Commenting on the investment, Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista, said, “We believe in the potential of the Digital Society that Jio is building for India. Mukesh’s vision as a global pioneer, alongside Jio’s world-class leadership team, have built a platform to scale and advance the data revolution it started. We are thrilled to join Jio Platforms to deliver exponential growth in connectivity across India, providing modern consumer, small business and enterprise software to fuel the future of one of the world’s fastest growing digital economies.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory and other customary approvals.

Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisor to Reliance Industries and AZB & Partners and Davis Polk & Wardwell acted as legal counsels. Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co served as legal counsels to Vista.

 

 

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Airtel launches Edge CDN ahead of 5G Launch

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier digital communications solutions provider, today announced multiple new products in its cloud portfolio ahead of the 5G service launch. The new cloud offerings will fall under Edge Cloud Portfolio and will include Edge CDN. Airtel will utilise Qwilt’s Open Edge Cloud solution for deployment.

Airtel Cloud’s Edge content delivery network (CDN) accelerates web and video content delivery by using its edge network to bring content as close to users as possible. This reduces latency, costs and load on servers making it easier for enterprises to focus on app performance. This service is especially useful in OTT, Ed-Tech, Gaming and Healthcare sectors.

Airtel Cloud’s Edge CDN service is network optimised as it uses 120 edge locations, network strength and share of mobility handset to bring better customer experience to customers. Airtel is working with two of the largest OTT companies in India and others on this platform.

Speaking about Airtel Cloud’s Edge Portfolio, Mr Ajay Chitkara, Director and CEO, Airtel Business Said, said, “With 5G around the corner, businesses will leverage the low latency, high bandwidth and high device density of the 5G spectrum to solve critical problems using edge computing. Airtel has three key strengths to offer a differentiated set of cloud offerings – we have 12 large data centres and 120+ edge locations. We also have a network with comprehensive coverage across the country and to most locations across the globe. Finally, our GTM strength has direct relationships to all businesses in India small, medium or large.”

Speaking about the partnership, Mr. Alon Maor, CEO, Qwilt, said “Airtel is a tremendously exciting addition to our global ecosystem of service providers, and we are delighted to power a unique content delivery service offering in India. Our edge architecture provides a new economic model for streaming delivery, in which Airtel Cloud’s Edge CDN plays a central role in the end-to-end value chain. This announcement underscores the momentum we are gathering as we realize our ambition to build the world’s highest preforming edge delivery network.”

Airtel has been spearheading 5G throughout India. It recently became the first company to test a captive private network at the Bosch facility in Bengaluru. Airtel is also rolling out its Edge compute service to customers. This will bring 5G private network and edge computing in a single box with a view to target factories, warehouse and ports, airports who will need low latency and high bandwidth network, IOT devices to collect and computing prowess to process the data.

Airtel also announced that as we move ahead, there will be many targeted cloud solutions coming in for specific industry needs like Banking, 5G Edge, Developer and hybrid cloud requirements on an immediate basis.

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India seeks to block Chinese firms from sub-Rs 12,000 phone market: Report

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NEW DELHI: India seeks to restrict Chinese smartphone makers from selling devices cheaper than Rs 12,000 ($150) to kickstart its faltering domestic industry, dealing a blow to brands including Xiaomi Corp.

The move is aimed at pushing Chinese giants out of the lower segment of the world’s second-biggest mobile market, according to people familiar with the matter. It coincides with mounting concern about high-volume brands like Realme and Transsion undercutting local manufacturers, they said, asking not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter.

Exclusion from India’s entry-level market would hurt Xiaomi and its peers, which in recent years have increasingly relied on India to drive growth while their home market endures a series of Covid-19 lockdowns that crippled consumption. Smartphones under $150 contributed to a third of India’s sales volume for the quarter through June 2022, with Chinese companies accounting for up to 80% of those shipments, according to market tracker Counterpoint.

Xiaomi’s shares extended losses in the final minutes of trading in Hong Kong on Monday. It slid 3.6%, extending their decline this year to more than 35%. It’s unclear whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will announce any policies or use informal channels to convey its preference to Chinese companies, the people said.

“Xiaomi smartphone shipments may fall by 11-14% a year, or 20-25 million units, with sales decreasing by 4-5%, we calculate, if India enacts a ban on China-made mobile phones retailing under $150. It accounts for 25% of the segment in India, which is Xiaomi’s most important overseas market, with 66% of its smartphones priced under $150,” according to IDC’s analysts.

New Delhi has already subjected Chinese firms operating in the country, such as Xiaomi and rivals Oppo and Vivo, to close scrutiny of their finances, which has led to tax demands and money laundering allegations. The government has previously employed unofficial means to ban Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. telecom equipment. While there’s no official policy prohibiting Chinese networking gear, wireless carriers are encouraged to purchase alternatives.

The move shouldn’t affect Apple Inc. or Samsung Electronics Co., which price their phones higher. Representatives from Xiaomi, Realme and Transsion didn’t respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople from India’s technology ministry also didn’t respond to Bloomberg News inquiries.

India amped up pressure on Chinese firms in the summer of 2020 after more than a dozen Indian soldiers died following a clash between the two nuclear-armed neighbors on a disputed Himalayan border. It has since banned more than 300 apps, including Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, as relations between the two countries fray.

Homegrown companies such as Lava and MicroMax comprised just under half of India’s smartphone sales before new entrants from the neighboring country disrupted the market with cheap and feature-rich devices.

Chinese smartphone players now sell the vast majority of devices in India, but their market dominance has not been “on the basis of free and fair competition”, MoS IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Business Standard last week. Recurring annual losses posted by most Chinese handset makers in India, despite their leading position, add to criticism of unfair competition.

In private, the government continues to ask Chinese executives to build local supply chains, distribution networks and export from India, suggesting New Delhi still very much wants their investment, the people said.

Source: Bloomberg

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Airtel to commence 5G Deployment from August 2022

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, today announced that it has signed 5G network agreements with Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to commence 5G deployment in August 2022.

Airtel has had a long-standing relationship for connectivity and Pan-India managed services with Ericsson and Nokia while the partnership with Samsung will begin this year onwards. The 5G partnerships follow closely on the heels of spectrum auctions conducted by the Department of Telecom in India, where Airtel bid for and acquired 19867.8 MHZ spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz frequency

Speaking about the agreements, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Airtel said, “We are delighted to announce that Airtel will commence roll out of 5G services in August. Our network agreements are finalized and Airtel will work with the best technology partners from across the world to deliver the full benefits of 5G connectivity to our consumers. India’s transition into a digital economy will be led by telecom and 5G presents a game-changing opportunity to drive the digital transformation of industries, enterprises and the socio-economic development of India.”

Choice of multiple partners will enable Airtel to roll out 5G services spanning ultra-high-speeds, low latency and large data handling capabilities, which will enable a superior user experience and allow the pursuit of new, innovative use cases with enterprise and industry customers.

Speaking about the agreement, Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, Ericsson, said: “We look forward to supporting Bharti Airtel with its deployment of 5G in India. With Ericsson’s unrivalled, global 5G deployment experience, we will help Bharti Airtel deliver the full benefits of 5G to Indian consumers and enterprises, while seamlessly evolving the Bharti network from 4G to 5G. 5G will enable India to realize its Digital India vision and foster inclusive development of the country.”

The multi-year deal will see Nokia provide equipment from its market-leading AirScale portfolio along with solutions and services for network management, deployment, planning and optimization services to ensure the best end-user experiences.

Speaking about the partnership, Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO of Nokia said, “This landmark deal reinforces our long-standing partnership with Bharti Airtel. We are delighted that they have chosen Nokia’s best-in-class AirScale baseband and radio portfolio to deliver superior 5G performance in one of the world’s largest networks. I look forward to our continued successful long-term collaboration in this vital and dynamic market.”

Airtel will also bring in South Korean Major Samsung as a network partner to deploy #Airtel5G. This is the first time that both companies will work together.

Speaking about the partnership, Paul (Kyungwhoon) Cheun, President and Head of Networks Business at Samsung Electronics said, “5G will have a powerful impact on India’s consumers and businesses—taking mobile experiences to a new level, introducing a gamut of enhanced capabilities and expanding what is possible. As a global leader in 5G, Samsung is excited to embark on this 5G journey with Airtel to deliver innovative solutions that will help advance India’s entrepreneurial spirit and open up a new paradigm for the country.”

Over the past year, Airtel has led the industry and spearheaded 5G technology in India testing several use cases with multiple partners at many locations. From demonstrating India’s first 5G experience over a live 4G network in Hyderabad to India’s first rural 5G trial to the first cloud gaming experience on 5G to the successful deployment of India’s first captive private network on the trial spectrum, Airtel has created and nurtured a vibrant ecosystem of partners and start-ups to support faster adoption of next-generation technologies.

 

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