During a meeting with Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, Japan’s richest businessman, evinced interest in investing further in India, saying that the country was ‘the top most priority for SoftBank’.
Mr. Son had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, his second meeting with him after an interaction in Japan during which he had outlined his company’s plans for India.
While stating that SoftBank would invest about $10 billion in India in the coming years, Mr. Son especially took note of the Indian e-commerce segment, which is estimated it to be a $500 billion business in the next ten years.
In line with this vision, the Japanese giant announced an $627 million investment in Snapdeal, the largest investment in an Indian e-commerce company.
SoftBank, along with other investors, has also put in $210 million funding in Ola (formerly Olacabs). While the exact amount invested was not revealed, sources said SoftBank would account for majority of the funding. Other investors include Tiger Global, Matrix Partners India and Steadview Capital.
Mr. Son said, “We believe India is at a turning point in its development, and have confidence that India will grow strongly over the next decade. As part of this belief, we intend to deploy significant capital in India over the next few years to support development of the market.”
Both these deals have been finalised under SoftBank Vice-Chairman and SoftBank Internet & Media, Inc (SIMI) CEO Nikesh Arora, who is a former Google executive. SIMI is a newly-formed subsidiary of SoftBank.
Mr. Arora said, “India has the third largest Internet user base in the world, but a relatively small online market currently. This situation means India has, with better, faster and cheaper internet access, a big growth potential.”
An official release, Mr. Son told Mr. Prasad the recent visit of Mr. Modi had created a climate of hope and optimism about greater economic co-operation between the two countries.