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Google seeks CCI nod for stake in Jio Platforms

Mumbai | New Delhi: US internet giant Google will soon seek approval of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for its ₹33,737 crore investment in Jio Platforms for a 7.73% stake, said people familiar with the matter. Like its arch rival Facebook, Google will get a board seat in Jio Platforms once the transaction gets all regulatory approvals.The CCI permission is needed as both companies have access to large amounts of customer data through their presence in the mobility segment, in addition to their large assets and turnover, said the persons. It will be the acquirer — Google — which will file for approval and the process could start within the next two weeks.“Although the stake is less than 10%, it will still need the regulator’s approval. These are two large companies which are big players in their sector. This is both a strategic and financial investment,” said one of the persons. Government officials too said the transaction required the competition watchdog's approval.77098435Threshold LimitJio and Google did not respond to ET's queries. While announcing their deal last week, Google and Reliance had said the investment would need regulatory approval but didn’t specify the need for a CCI clearance, like had been done at the time of the Facebook announcement. The two had also not mentioned about Google getting a seat on Jio Platforms board.Ashish Pyasi, associate partner, Dhir and Dhir Associates, said that as per the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002, if the turnover and the value of assets both in India and in foreign countries cross a threshold limit, then approval from the competition regulator must be taken. According to the guidelines, if either party has turnover or assets outside India, with combined asset value of $750 million and combined turnover of $2.25 billion, CCI has to approve the transaction. The regulator also looks into cases where the Indian firm has an asset value of ₹750 crore and turnover of ₹2,250 crore.“In the present case, the threshold limit will be crossed, therefore approval from the commission will be required,” he added. “On the premise that thresholds are crossed, even though Google’s shareholding would be less than 10%, it is highly likely that this deal would require a CCI approval as benefit of the exemptions under the Combination Regulations may not be available,” said Kanika Chaudhary Nayar, partner, L&L Partners Law Offices. “This wouldn’t constitute an acquisition made solely for the purposes of investment and it is likely that Google would have an appointee on the board and/or have rights greater than those of an ordinary shareholder,” Nayar added.