Softbank invests $840M in India tech companies

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese telecommunications company Softbank Corp. said Tuesday that it's investing nearly $840 million in two technology companies in India, making a bet on what it sees as a lucrative market for growth.

Softbank, which sells the iPhone in Japan, is investing $627 million and becoming the biggest shareholder in Snapdeal, the largest digital marketplace in India with 25 million users and 50,000 businesses. It brings together products from thousands of big and small brands.

The Tokyo-based company, which recently acquired Sprint in the U.S., is also investing $210 million in Ola Cabs, which runs the technology to connect consumers with cab drivers in India, seeking to make transportation "seamless and ubiquitous," in the words of its co-founder and Chief Executive Bhavish Aggarwal.

Softbank executives said they were banking on India because it has a large number of Internet users, the online market is not yet saturated and connection speeds are likely to get faster.

"We believe India is at a turning point in its development and have confidence that India will grow strongly over the next decade," said Softbank Chairman and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son.

Electronic commerce in India has been booming lately, attracting a stream of investments including overseas money from companies such as Amazon.

India's prime minister Narendra Modi visited Japan last month with a delegation that included more than a dozen tycoons, hoping to elevate relatively low key business ties between the two countries.