The investment is part of Google’s…

The partnership between Bharti Airtel and Google will focus on enabling affordable access to smartphones, among other pursuits.

Photo: Indranil Aditya/Zuma Press

Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG -1.10% Google will invest up to $1 billion in partnership with Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel Ltd. 532454 -0.46% , part of efforts to build its presence in one of the world’s last great untapped digital markets.

Google will pay $700 million for a 1.28% stake in New Delhi-based Bharti Airtel and invest up to $300 million in multiyear commercial deals, the companies said Friday. The partnership will focus on enabling affordable access to smartphones and growing the cloud ecosystem for businesses across India, among other pursuits, they said.

The tie-up comes as Google has been spending billions of dollars to tighten its ties to India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people where hundreds of millions have yet to get online and investment in internet companies is rising.

In 2020, Google bought a $4.5 billion stake in Jio Platforms Ltd., the company behind India’s largest telecom provider by subscribers. That marked its first investment from a $10 billion fund focused on tech companies, partnerships and infrastructure in Asia’s third largest economy.

The new deal is a continuation of that fund’s “efforts to increase access to smartphones, enhance connectivity to support new business models, and help companies on their digital transformation journey,” Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google and Alphabet, said in a statement Friday.

Bharti Airtel plans to issue up to 71.2 million shares to Google at 734 rupees (the equivalent of $9.76) each, representing about a 3.8% premium to the stock’s closing price on Thursday. Shares traded 1.4% higher in afternoon trade following the announcement, taking 12-month gains to about 28%.

The companies added that the potential commercial deals would boost Bharti Airtel’s offerings and aim to improve access to India’s digital services.

Google’s investment is subject to regulatory approvals.

Apple and Google have one of Silicon Valley’s most famous rivalries, but behind the scenes they maintain a deal worth $8 billion to $12 billion a year according to a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit. Here’s how they came to depend on each other. Photo illustration: Jaden Urbi

Write to Kosaku Narioka at

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