Google to invest up to $1 billion in deal with Bharti Airtel

Alphabet Inc.’s Google will invest up to $1 billion in partnership with Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel Ltd. This deal is a part of Google for India Digitization Fund efforts to build its presence in one of the world’s last great untapped digital markets.

Google will pay $700 million for a 1.28% stake in New Delhi-based Bharti Airtel and invest up to $300 million in multiyear commercial deals, the companies said Friday.

The tie-up comes as Google has been spending billions of dollars to tighten its ties to India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people where hundreds of millions have yet to get online and investment in internet companies is rising.

“As part of this partnership, Google intends to invest up to $ 1 billion, as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund, which includes equity investment as well as a corpus for potential commercial agreements, to be identified and agreed on mutually agreeable terms over the course of the next five years,” Bharti said in a regulatory filing. The telco said that together with Google, they will work to bring best-in-class end-to-end products to serve customer needs, provide quality customer experience, and bring their expertise to solve problems of affordability, access, and digital inclusion. As a part of its first commercial agreement, both the companies will work together to build on Airtel’s extensive offerings that cover a range of Android-enabled devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs.

The new deal is a continuation of that 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, Chief Executive of Google and Alphabet, said in a statement on Friday.

However, Google’s investment is subject to regulatory approvals.