Bharti SoftBank Announces Mobile Internet JV in India

Bharti Enterprises and SOFTBANK CORP, parent corporation for one of Japan’s leading internet company groups (SoftBank) have announced the formal launch of Bharti Softbank Holdings Pte. Ltd. (“BSB”), a 50:50 controlled joint venture between Bharti and SoftBank established to focus on mobile internet market.

BSB will actively invest in the mobile internet ecosystem’s growth in India, with an emphasis on three key areas:

  • Social Media,
  • Gaming,
  • e-Commerce.

Important to recall that Airtel shut down its Innovation Fund in September 2010 and from what we know, there was a talk with Singtel to launch an India specific fund, but it didn’t materialize.

What will this JV do? Well, only time will tell if Bharti can really execute a fund business – the Innovation fund was shut now to pump money into 3G auction (as many speculated), but it was shut down because lack of interest and too much of bureaucracy in the company.

Also, Softbank earlier invested $200mn in Inmobi.

Press Release

New Delhi/Tokyo, October 20, 2011: Bharti Enterprises, one of India’s leading business groups (“Bharti”), and SOFTBANK CORP., parent corporation for one of Japan’s leading internet company groups (“SoftBank”), are pleased to announce the formal launch of Bharti Softbank Holdings Pte. Ltd. (“BSB”), a 50:50 controlled joint venture between Bharti and SoftBank established to focus on mobile internet.

BSB will actively participate in the mobile internet ecosystem’s growth in India, with an emphasis on three key areas: Social Media, Gaming, e-Commerce. BSB aims to further accelerate the pace of development of India’s mobile internet market, which, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, had over 850 million mobile subscribers as of July, 2011.

“India, which has emerged as the second largest mobile market in the world, stands at the cusp of another revolution – mobile internet,” said Mr. Kavin Bharti Mittal, BSB’s Head of Strategy & New Product Development. “With a fast growing economy, a large youth population and access to cheaper and faster data, there is a unique opportunity to build services ground up for mobile, especially in a country where the first screen for most is a mobile device. We are delighted to partner with SoftBank, whose vast experience in this area will help us build and invest in services for India.”

“Over the decades, SoftBank has endeavoured to develop new markets for Internet businesses, starting from the U.S., China and now India,” said Mr. Atsushi Taira, a Director of BSB. “I believe that through the mobile internet, we can change people’s lives in India and empower each one of them, which will contribute to society’s exponential growth. I am very excited to be a part of this vision and delighted to have Bharti, with its unparalleled vision, knowledge and experience with emerging markets, as our partner. This partnership represents a significant step in SoftBank’s journey towards becoming No. 1 in the mobile internet industry.”