SoftBank betting $10 billion on Indian Internet market

SoftBank also announced investments in two online businesses in India

Japanese telecommunications and Internet company SoftBank is planning to invest US$10 billion in India, the country's government said after meetings with the company's chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son.

The SoftBank head met with India's leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister for Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad during a visit this week to the country.

SoftBank also announced Tuesday an investment of $627 million in online retailer Snapdeal, making it the largest investor in the company. SoftBank is also leading an investment of $210 million in Ola Cabs, a company that links consumers with cab drivers through mobile apps, the Web and call centers.

SoftBank did not comment on the investment plan in India, although it said in a statement that it planned to "deploy significant capital in India over the next few years." Son told a TV channel that he had a "strong wish and willingness to invest more like" $10 billion in India in the next 10 years.

The company hopes to benefit from opportunities for developing the country's nascent online market, created by its large Internet user base.

Amazon.com said in July it was investing $2 billion more in the country, attracted by the online retail opportunities. The online retailer did not say how or over what period it will make the investment.

SoftBank already has made investments in India, including in a joint venture in 2011 with Bharti Enterprises group, which has India's largest mobile operator, Bharti Airtel, as a group company. Bharti Softbank Holdings is focused on the mobile Internet.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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