Intel invests in Indian telcom giant Jio Platforms

India’s biggest telecom company, which is selling off 20% of itself, is attracting a roster of high-end American investors, the latest of which is Intel.

Through its investment arm, Intel Capital, the American chipmaker is investing $253.5 million in Jio Platforms, which has nearly 400 million subscribers in India. The deal gives Intel a 0.39% stake in Jio.

This comes just three months after Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Jio. By buying part of Jio, Intel and Facebook join other high-profile U.S. investors, including General Atlantic, KKR, Silver Lake and Vista. Investors in the Arab world have also invested billions in the company.

These deals are happening because the richest man in India, billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is selling off 20-25% of Jio Platforms to raise money for its debt-ridden parent company, Reliance Industries.

Jio Platforms operates the Jio Infocomm network, which is the largest 4G network in India and has over 388 million subscribers. It launched in 2016 and quickly gained market share by offering inexpensive voice calls.

This recent round of investment from US companies illustrates the financial opportunities foreign investors see in Jio, which has quickly become India’s largest telecom company.

Jio also operates a menu of apps and digital services, including music streaming, on-demand live television, a payments app, smartphones and broadband. It also just launched JioMeet, a videoconference service resembling Zoom.

Jio announced Intel’s investment in a tweet: “Jio Platforms’ focus on applying its impressive engineering capabilities to bring the power of low-cost digital services to India aligns with Intel’s purpose of delivering breakthrough technology that enriches lives,” said Wendell Brooks, Intel Capital’s president. “We believe digital access and data can transform business and society for the better.”

For his part, Jio’s principal owner hailed Intel as “a true industry leader.”

“We are therefore excited to work together with Intel to advance India’s capabilities in cutting-edge technologies that will empower all sectors of our economy and improve the quality of life of 1.3 billion Indians,” Ambani said.

Analysts say Intel’s investment in Jio could help it gain a stronger foothold in India’s developing 5G market.