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Amazon said to be considering $2 billion stake in Bharti Airtel

The strange big tech arms race in the Indian telecoms sector looks set to escalate further if Amazon buys a major stake in Bharti Airtel.

The rumour comes courtesy of Reuters, which has had a word with no less than three people who reckon they’re clued up on the situation. They say Amazon is in early-stage talks to buy a stake worth at least $2 billion in Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel. That would apparently equate to around 5% of the company, although it seems Amazon could double that investment if it got a sudden rush of blood.

While the Indian telecoms market is arguably the number one growth opportunity in the global market, the operators left standing are all in a lot of debt. That, combined with the depressed value of assets thanks to the coronavirus-induced global recession means there are some great investment opportunities. Not only do they offer potential capital growth, having a piece of the action also grants access to billions of Indian punters.

Which explains why US internet giants are showing such an interest. In April Facebook chucked $5.7 billion at Reliance Jio and last week it was reported that Google is having a sniff around Vodafone Idea. While all this cash will doubtless come with major strings attached, this is probably good for the Indian telecoms sector as a whole as it should enable the operators concerned to accelerate their network rollout plans.


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