Vodafone Idea: Google Reportedly Eyeing Stake in Struggling Operator, Share Price Jumps 30 Percent

Google is exploring an investment in Vodafone Group’s struggling Indian business – Vodafone Idea – the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The search giant said to be considering buying a stake of about 5 percent in the telecom operator, the report said, citing one of the people. The process is at an early stage, according to the report. Vodafone Idea share price surged over 30 percent on Friday after the FT report before getting down to 25 percent increase.

“Google parent Alphabet has also held talks about acquiring a stake in Jio but has lagged behind its rival in securing a deal. Pursuing Vodafone Idea instead would potentially pit Google against Facebook and an increasingly dominant Jio but the company could also make multiple investments in India,” the FT wrote in the report

If the Google investment in Vodafone Idea comes to fruition, it will pit the Mountain View, California-based company in battle on another front in the world’s fastest growing mobile market. For the 

Vodafone said it does not comment on market speculation, while Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On the news of Google’s possible investment, Vodafone Idea shares jumped over 30 percent to Rs. 7.80, before getting down to Rs. 7.35 at the time of updating this report.

Last month, Facebook agreed to invest $5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crores) for a 9.99 percent stake in Reliance Industries’ digital arm, Jio, which competes with Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel in India’s fiercely competitive telecom market. Jio has also secured investments from Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, and KKR. Reuters on Thursday reported that Abu Dhabi state fund and Twitter were also in talks with Reliance for a possible investment in Jio. 


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