NEW DELHI/OAKLAND (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google will invest $4.5 billion in Reliance Industries’ digital unit, the Indian group said on Wednesday as it laid out an ambitious roadmap for its businesses ranging from entertainment to retail.
Google will get a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms – the unit which houses Reliance’s music, movie apps and telecoms venture – Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani told the group’s annual shareholder meeting, keeping up the tradition of making big announcements at the event.
Reliance, India’s most highly-valued company controlled by billionaire Ambani, has now sold nearly 33% of Jio Platforms raising 1.52 trillion rupees ($20.22 billion) since late April with Facebook buying a 9.99% stake for $5.7 billion.
Google will gain a seat on Jio Platforms’ board alongside Facebook following the transaction.
The latest investment announced on Wednesday comes just days after Alphabet Inc said it would invest $10 billion in India via a so-called digitisation fund over the next five to seven years through equity deals and tie-ups.
“As we end our current cycle of capital raising, we are delighted to welcome another strategic partner into Jio,” Ambani said.
The deal with Google will bolster Reliance’s tech ambitions, such as building smart homes, using solutions similar to Amazon.com Inc’s Alexa voice assistant, connected cars and security systems.
Jio aims to design a low-cost “4G or even 5G smartphone” for India, Ambani said, in a move that is likely to get tens of millions of Indians to use mobile internet for the first time.
The company, he said, will collaborate with Google to build an Android-based operating system for this new device.
“We want to ensure smartphones along with apps and services in the Play store are within reach for many more Indians,” Sameer Samat, vice president for Android and Play at Google, told Reuters.
“Given the pace of innovation in India, we felt like now was the right time to dramatically increase our commitment.”
Samat declined to give details on the new device or partners Google and Reliance may enlist to help manufacture it.
Google has previously invested in KaiOS, a mobile operating system maker that powers Reliance’s low-cost JioPhone, a basic phone with limited apps.
Jio Infocomm, the mainstay of Jio Platforms and India’s largest mobile carrier with more than 387 million users, will also widen Google’s reach in a country where just about 500 million of its 1.3 billion population use the internet.
“Through this partnership with Jio Platforms we see the chance to have an even greater impact than either company could have alone,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a video message, adding that the Jio investment was “the first and the biggest” investment Google would make via its $10 billion fund.
Google could potentially also benefit from Ambani’s closeness to the nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has taken a hard stand on issues such as data localisation and digital taxes, a headache for big tech firms such as Facebook and Google.
Reliance, which has also won the backing of Qualcomm Inc and Intel Corp for Jio Platforms, has built an in-house 5G solution and is ready for trials as soon as 5G airwaves are available, Ambani said.
Ambani did not specify what this solution was, but said Jio would be well-positioned to export it once it reaches scale.
He said the group had also received “strong interest from strategic and financial investors” in Reliance Retail, adding: “We will induct global partners and investors in Reliance Retail in the next few quarters.”
He said JioMart, Reliance Retail’s e-commerce venture which was launched in March, will expand beyond grocery deliveries to sell electronics and fashion. It currently offers free express grocery delivery from neighbourhood mom-and-pop stores.
Reliance also showed off its tech prowess on Wednesday by unveiling two new gadgets: an Apple TV-like new, set-top box with improved features over the previous iteration, and JioGlass, a device that connects to internet for video calls and allows for hosting of online classes.
Ambani’s daughter Isha Ambani demonstrated the educational and healthcare uses of JioMeet, a newly launched video conferencing tool that is free and rivals Zoom Video Communications Inc’s app.
Reporting and photo: Reuters
Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting
The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance.
The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).
In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).
Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.
A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.
In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.
Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):
- Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
- Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
Unlocking power of travel storytelling at Travel Creators Exchange 2024
Join us for the Travel Creators Exchange 2024, taking place on February 1, 2024, at the Hotel Jen in Male’, Maldives.
This dynamic event provides a platform for networking and collaboration among Maldives-based travel creators, fostering connections, idea-sharing, and the establishment of lasting partnerships to expand opportunities and monetise content.
Our lineup of distinguished speakers includes:
- Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of MMPRC, will present on “Power of Digital Storytelling: Collaborative Strategies for Destination Promotion.” MMPRC actively markets the Maldives globally, utilising a comprehensive approach that includes travel trade shows, roadshows, digital marketing, and more.
- Amjad Thaufeeg, Commercial Director of Kuda Villingili Maldives Resort, brings over 23 years of hospitality industry experience. He will discuss “The Role of Content in Tourism Marketing,” drawing on expertise in revenue, customer service, sales & marketing, and human capital development.
- Suresh Dissanayake, Assistant Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Heritance Aarah & Adaaran Resorts, with nearly two decades of experience, will shed light on “What does a Sales and Marketing Director Do?” He brings extensive luxury hospitality experience and a proven track record in sales, distribution, and marketing.
- Vishal Amir Ahmed, a versatile cinematographer and content creator, will explore “Who is a Content Creator.” Currently associated with Various Arts Studio, he specialises in providing multimedia solutions to various clients.
Organised by Maldives Insider, Maldives Virtual Tour, Travel Trade Maldives, and Hotelier Maldives, this collaborative effort aims to empower Maldives-based travel content creators and elevate the Maldives as a premier destination for captivating travel storytelling.
Acclaimed contemporary artist Ana Pušica explores perpetuality and community at Patina Maldives
Ana Pušica Kramer, an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, joins Patina Maldives for an exclusive art residency in the now infamous Fari Art Atelier. From January 22 to February 22, 2024, Ana Pušica will grace the shores of the Fari Islands, weaving a vibrant narrative of colour and emotion across her larger than-life canvases.
Her artistry transcends boundaries, melding abstraction and figuration into awe-inspiring masterpieces. Having exhibited globally, from New York to Beijing, Ana’s paintings are a physical, intuitive act rooted in movement. Described as a “beautiful fluorescent thunderstorm,” Ana’s art explores light and colour, capturing the energy of life itself.
The Fari Art Atelier which has previously hosted the likes of Daniel Arsham, Chris Stamp and David Nott, will be transformed into Ana’s studio and gallery showcasing her enthralling artworks—a mesmerising journey through poetry, memory, and the vibrant interplay of colour. Guests at Patina are invited to delve into Ana’s world, where each stroke reveals layers of meaning, evoking sensations of intense lightness and boundless interpretation.
At Patina Maldives, Ana will immerse herself in a month-long residency, inviting the Patina Malidves community or guests and team to witness her artistic fervour firsthand. Guests will have the rare opportunity not only to observe her creative process but also to engage with and create art alongside this luminary.
Experience artistry at its most exclusive
Experience Ana’s captivating exploration of colour and emotion in her spellbinding artworks displayed at the Fari Atelier.
Art Workshops: Message in a Bottle
As part of a collaborative artwork, Ana invites Patina guests to participate in short workshops, actively contributing to the creation of a permanent installation at Patina Maldives.
Open Studio Session
Join Ana for an exclusive open studio session, offering guests a behind the-scenes look at her creative process.
Ana Pušica residency package
Discover a world where creativity knows no bounds as Ana Pušica, the maestro of contemporary art, transforms Patina Maldives into an immersive canvas of inspiration.
Book now to secure your experience.
For more information and reservations, please visit Patina Maldives or contact
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