Times of India is reporting that telecom giant AT&T (NYSE:T) is planning to purchase a 25 percent stake in Reliance Jio Infocomm, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, for $3.5 billion. This would put the value of Reliance at roughly $14 billion, and would represent the largest foreign direct investment for the firm – an impressive figure, given that the telecommunications services have not started yet.
Tushar Pania, spokesman for Reliance Industries, declined to comment, as did Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Atlanta-based AT&T. Bloomberg reported on the story, but also noted that the Times of India had not revealed its sources.
Reliance Industries is largely rooted in natural gas and petroleum, but declining profits in those industries have prodded the company to diversify its offerings in pursuit of other revenue channels.
The purchase would be a large opportunity for AT&T, as Reliance hopes to have the largest telecom network in India within three years of commencing services. The company also intends to offer the nation’s first 4G network, a system that AT&T has experience with in North America. It would also allow AT&T to establish a sturdy presence in the developing, highly populated country which has one the highest mobile markets in the world.
The stake would help AT&T compete directly with Vodafone, who have a 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), America’s largest wireless network provider.
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