India’s antitrust watchdog has approved Google’s proposed investment of $4.5 billion in the nation’s largest telecom platform Jio Platforms, it said in a tweet on Wednesday.
Google announced in July that it would be investing $4.5 billion for a 7.73% stake in the top Indian telecom network. As part of the deal, Google and Jio Platforms would collaborate to build a customized-version of Android mobile operating system to develop low-cost, entry-level smartphones to serve the next hundreds of millions of users, the two companies said.
The announcement today comes days after Indian watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) said it had directed an in-depth investigation into the claims of whether Google promotes its payments service during the installation of an Android smartphone (and whether phone vendors have a choice to avoid this); and if Google Play Store’s billing system is designed “to the disadvantage of both i.e. apps facilitating payment through UPI, as well as users.”
The call for this in-depth investigation was prompted after the CCI concluded in its initial review that requiring Google Pay to be used buy apps or make in-app payments was an “imposition of unfair and discriminatory condition, denial of market access for competing apps of Google Pay and leveraging on the part of Google,” the watchdog said.
Jio Platforms, which has amassed over 400 million subscribers, has this year raised over $20 billion from 13 high-profile investors including Facebook, which alone invested $5.7 billion into the Indian firm. That deal has also been approved by the CCI. Jio Platforms is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, India’s most valued firm. It is run by Mukesh Ambani, who is Asia’s richest man.