The US-based technology giant, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, was close to signing a preliminary deal but the negotiations got delayed due global travel bans arising from the current coronavirus pandemic.
The development comes as Reliance Industries (RIL), the parent company of Jio and which also has interests in petrochemicals and retail, has been looking to induct foreign partners in all businesses as it plans to deleverage itself. While a Facebook India spokesperson did not reply to TOI’s queries till the time of going to press, Reliance could not be reached for comment. The FT report added that Google had also engaged with Reliance Jio earlier.
Last year, reports had stated that Japan’s SoftBank may invest in Reliance Jio. A JP Morgan research report gave Jio a potential valuation of $50 billion, while Bernstein pegged it at $60 billion.
At the RIL AGM in August last year, Ambani had said that the company will become a zero net debt company in 18 months. This is being done through a slew of equity partnerships in various businesses. RIL has been in talks to sell stake in its petrochemicals business to Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, but the deal has reportedly faced delays.
It has already finalised deals for its retail petrol pump business with BP and for telecom tower assets with Canada’s Brookfield, which is scheduled to be closed by the end of the financial year ending March 31, 2020. RIL closed last financial year, which ended in March 2019, with a net debt of Rs 1,54,478 crore.
Jio became India’s largest telco by subscribers, reaching 370 million connections, in January. It also has digital media apps like JioTV, JioSaavn, JioCinema and JioNews. Over the last three years, Jio has also been making acquisitions as it looks to get into new areas like online retail & commerce, education and healthcare along with plans to build a broader ecosystem of internet services and drive synergies with its retail business as well.