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Facebook Places Huge Bet On India With $5.7B

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Social media giant Facebook is to invest INR435.74 billion (US$5.7 billion) for a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, one of India’s largest multinational companies and the parent company of Reliance Jio Infocomm, India’s only pure-play 4G services provider.

Once the deal is approved by the regulatory authorities, Facebook will become the largest minority shareholder of Jio. The investment is the biggest the social networking giant has ever made and places a huge bet on the developing market.

“With this deal, the borders between utility and platform businesses are blurring,” says Dario Talmesio, a principal analyst and the practice leader for 5G and European TMT research at Omdia. “In essence, with the help of Facebook we might see the first example of a telecom operator turning into a digital commerce platform after years of industry fearing that the opposite would have happened.”

The collaboration will allow Jio to lower its debt of around 400 billion Indian rupees ($5.2 billion). For Facebook, which already counts India as one of its largest markets, it promises further engagement with Indian citizens, and especially with the country’s small and midsized enterprises.

The landmark deal values Jio Platforms at INR4.62 trillion ($60.2 billion), assuming a conversion rate of INR70 to the dollar. Jio, which launched services in 2016 and has more than 300 million subscribers, will continue to remain a subsidiary of Jio Platforms.

Big deal targeting India’s small businesses
“This partnership will accelerate India’s all-round development, fulfilling the needs of Indian people and the Indian economy,” said Reliance Industries in a press release. “Our focus will be India’s 60 million micro, small and medium businesses, 120 million farmers, 30 million small merchants and millions of small and medium enterprises in the informal sector, in addition to empowering people seeking various digital services.”

With more than 300 million subscribers, Facebook has a massive presence in India. Moreover, WhatsApp, the messaging service it owns, has more than 400 million users in the country and has developed several tools, including a payment system, for small businesses. Facebook has also created digital storefronts to allow entrepreneurs to sell goods and services online.

Facebook’s hope is that collaboration with Jio Platforms will boost engagement with India’s community of small businesses. “One focus of our collaboration with Jio will be creating new ways for people and businesses to operate more effectively in the growing digital economy,” said David Fischer, Facebook’s chief revenue officer, and Ajit Mohan, its Indian managing director, in a joint statement. “For instance, by bringing together JioMart, Jio’s small business initiative, with the power of WhatsApp, we can enable people to connect with businesses, shop and ultimately purchase products in a seamless mobile experience.”

Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail and WhatsApp have also entered into a commercial partnership to “further accelerate Reliance Retail’s [the retail arm of Reliance Industries] new commerce business on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp and to support small businesses on WhatsApp,” says Reliance Industries.

JioMart is a platform for small merchants and small grocery stores. Facebook and Jio are to “work closely to ensure that consumers are able to access the nearest kiranas [neighborhood small grocery stores] who can provide products and services to their homes by transacting seamlessly with JioMart using WhatsApp,” they say. (See India’s Jio, Facebook team on multi-purpose app – report.)

“At the core of our partnership is the commitment that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and I share for the all-round digital transformation of India and for serving all Indians,” said Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, in a video message. “In the post-corona era, I am confident of India’s economic recovery and resurgence in the shortest period of time. The partnership will surely make an important contribution to this transformation.”

Jio wants to become the de facto online platform for Indian consumers and is working on several products, including smart homes, connected cars, tele-health and distance learning innovations. The deal with Facebook could help to advance those goals.

While several businesses have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, digital companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google are likely to gain as lockdowns and other restrictions on movement force organizations to speed up the digitalization of business processes. (See Big Tech’s ‘hiring spree’ will leave many behind.)

“The country [India] is in the middle of a major digital transformation, and organizations like Jio have played a big part in getting hundreds of millions of Indian people and small businesses online,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, in a blog on his Facebook page. “With communities around the world in lockdown, many of these entrepreneurs need digital tools they can rely on to find and communicate with customers and grow their businesses. This is something we can help with and that’s why we’re partnering with Jio to help people and businesses in India create new opportunities.”

The deal is especially significant because of Ambani’s stated desire to ensure India remains in control of the data it generates.

“Data is the new oil … For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India. In other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian,” he is reported to have said at an event in January 2019. This was later qualified by Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, who said: “Data isn’t oil, a finite commodity to be owned and traded, pumped from the ground and burned in cars and factories. Of course, no analogy is perfect, but a better liquid to liken it to is water, with the global Internet like a great borderless ocean of currents and tides.”

Jio recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to offer its suite of services to small businesses.

This is not the first time Facebook has tried to boost its presence in India. It launched its Free Basics plan in India in 2018, offering free access to chosen Internet services for people who could not afford 4G data plans. The program was banned by the Indian authorities because it was seen to be violating the principles of net neutrality.

“After having experimented with free Wi-Fi access, connectivity drones and other innovative Internet-for-all initiatives, Facebook is now getting hands-on with ‘traditional’ connectivity,” says Talmesio. “The two companies share many common goals, and, surely, there will be synergies. However, it is useful to remember that Facebook has acquired a minority stake and presumably will have limited direct involvement in the daily running of the operation. But the ramifications for the wider industry are huge and this deal can be the first step of many.”

Recently, Facebook has been trying to get approval for WhatsApp Pay, a payment platform, which is still in beta version. Collaboration with Reliance might help the company to get this rolling.

While it is not yet clear, the Jio-Facebook investment might indirectly impact the country’s already stressed telecom sector. If the products it develops persuade small businesses to move to Jio, the move could stoke fears that India’s telecom sector is on track to become a duopoly or even monopoly.

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Lionel Messi Blasts Barcelona For ‘Throwing’ Luis Suárez Out Of The Club

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Lionel Messi has launched a fresh attack on Barcelona’s hierarchy for the way the club treated his close friend Luis Suárez after the striker left for rival club, Atlético Madrid.

The Argentine playmaker, who threatened to leave Barça last month and recently hit out at the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s leadership, said Suárez was harshly treated and ‘thrown out’ of the club.

In an emotional goodbye post dedicated to Suarez, the club’s third-highest scorer of all time, Messi wrote: “I had already begun to imagine it but today I went into the dressing room and it truly dawned on me. It’s going to be so difficult to not continue to share every day with you both on the pitches and away from them.

“We’re going to miss you so much. We spent many years together, many mates, many lunches and many dinners. So many things we will never forget, all the time we spent together.

“It will be strange to see you in another shirt and much more to come up against you on the pitch. You deserved a farewell that fit with who you are: one of the most important players in the history of the club. Someone who achieved great things for the team and on an individual level.

“You did not deserve for them to throw you out as they did. But the truth is that at this stage nothing surprises me anymore.”

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Ya me venía haciendo la idea pero hoy entré al vestuario y me cayó la ficha de verdad. Que difícil va a ser no seguir compartiendo el día a día con vos, tanto en las canchas como afuera. Los vamos a extrañar muchísimo. Fueron muchos años, muchos mates, comidas, cenas… Muchas cosas que nunca se van a olvidar, todos los días juntos. Va a ser raro verte con otra camiseta y mucho más enfrentarte. Te merecías que te despidan como lo que sos: uno de los jugadores más importantes de la historia del club, consiguiendo cosas importantes tanto en lo grupal como individualmente. Y no que te echen como lo hicieron. Pero la verdad que a esta altura ya no me sorprende nada. Te deseo todo lo mejor en este nuevo desafío. Te quiero mucho, los quiero mucho. Hasta pronto, amigo.

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On Thursday, an emotional Suarez said goodbye to Barcelona and paid tribute to Messi after sealing a switch to Atletico Madrid. The Uruguay international had previously made it clear that he wanted to stay and see out his contract but was told by Barca’s new coach Ronald Koeman that his playing days were over at the club.

Suarez helped the club win four LaLiga titles, four Copa del Rey crowns, and the Champions League in 2015. He scored 195 goals and provided 113 assists in 283 outings for the club before his exit.

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Western Togoland ‘Military’ Group Block Major Roads To The Volta Region

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Reports reaching KUBILIVE reveal there is chaos on Kpong-Akosombo road as young men believed to be members of the Western Togoland have mounted roadblock at Akrade preventing vehicular movement.

The group said to be wielding implements and sticks chanting war songs mounted the roadblock around 3: 00 am Friday turning away vehicles as they claim ownership of the area.

Armed Police and Military officers have been deployed to the scene.

The Western Togolanders also used heaps of sands to block the Mepe-Sege road and the Accra-Ho road at Juapong preventing the flow of traffic.

As a result of the blocks, most passengers traveling to areas in the Volta Region including Tefle, Tsopoli, and Juapong have all been left stranded

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15-Year-Old Girl Smoking Sparks Outrage On Twitter | WATCH

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A video of a 15-year-old girl smoking was uploaded to Twitter and it has sparked outrage.

The number 1 trending topic at the moment amongst Nigerians on Twitter is “She’s 15” as people debate the girl’s action.

15-year-old girl smoking, sparks outrage on Twitter (video)

A number of people have been condemning the girl, while some made a case for her, saying we all did silly things at 15 but didn’t film it.

Watch below.

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