Jio friends Facebook, 4 others

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Hogan Lovells and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM) represented social media company Facebook on its US$5.7 billion purchase of a 9.9% stake in Jio Platforms, the digital arm of India’s Reliance Industries. Jio was advised by Davis Polk & Wardwell and AZB & Partners.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, White & Case, and Fenwick & West also advised Facebook on the transaction.

The deal provides Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, with direct access to Jio’s 380 million subscribers and a strong foothold into India’s booming mobile market and growing digital economy. Facebook’s WhatsApp also has 400 million users in India, with the social media giant set to add a payment feature to this service. Jio Platforms, the digital services subsidiary of Reliance Industries, also raised an additional US$4.62 billion from four financial investors.

In the most recent transaction on 21 May, KKR signed an agreement for a 2.32% stake in Jio for US$1.5 billion. Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (SAM) and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett acted as legal counsel to KKR, which made the investment through Omicron Asia Holdings II.

Simpson Thacher’s team on the KKR deal included M&A partner Ian Ho, tax partner Nancy Mehlman and associate Joseph Tootle. On 17 May, General Atlantic agreed to a US$870 million investment for a 1.34% stake. SAM and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison advised General Atlantic. The Paul Weiss team included corporate partners Matthew Abbott and Neil Goldman, tax partner Lindsay Parks, and antitrust counsel Marta Kelly.

On 4 May, Silver Lake agreed on a US$750 million investment for a 1.5% stake in Jio, while on 8 May, Vista Equity Partners signed up for a US$1.5 billion investment for a 2.32% stake. SAM and Kirkland & Ellis served as legal counsel to Vista Equity Partners.

The Hogan Lovells transaction team advising Facebook was led by Silicon Valley corporate partners Jane Ross and Nate Gallon, Denver senior associate Brittany Raway, and Silicon Valley associate Ariel Keller. Washington DC-based global regulatory partners Beth Peters and Ajay Kuntamukkala, senior associate Deborah Wei, and associate Cayla Ebert advised on trade matters.

Partners Raghubir Menon, Natashaa Shroff, Sakshi Mehra, Naval Chopra, Yaman Verma, Anuj Berry, Tejas Karia, Pavit Singh Katoch, Shashank Mishra, Shahana Chatterji, Yogesh Chande; Abhay Sharma, Rajat Bose, Gouri Puri, Shilpa Mankar Ahluwalia and Shubhangi Garg led the SAM team.

The Kirkland team was led by partners Stuart Casillas, Vlad Kroll, Nathan Davis, Srinivas Kaushik and Abhishek Kolay, and associates Ari Levi, Lesley Hamilton, Katherine Ackerman and Alex Dayneka-Hayes.

AZB’s team on all five deals included partners Ashwath Rau and Nilanjana Singh. Partner Bharat Budholia and senior associate Gaurav Bansal provided competition law expertise.

All five deals are subject to regulatory and other customary approvals. While information on dates for closing the deals was not available, the approximately US$10 billion reeled in is expected to further Jio’s vision to enable a digital India for the country’s 1.3 billion people, and Reliance’s plans to become a zero net-debt company by the end of March 2021.