Ratan Tata has kept himself busy since stepping down as chairman of the Tata Group in 2012, investing in several promising technology startups in India. He has now taken this activity to a whole new level, becoming the first Indian to pick up a stake in China’s largest smartphone maker, Xiaomi.
The 78-year-old has invested an undisclosed amount in the company, touted by investors as the world’s most valuable technology startup at $45 billion.
“Mr Tata is one of the most well-respected business leaders in the world. An investment by him is an affirmation of the strategy we have undertaken in India so far,” Lei Jun, founder and CEO of Xiaomi, said in a statement on Sunday, announcing the investment.
“Xiaomi is one of the fastest-growing companies in the world. It has brought its innovative business model and highquality products to India with huge success,” Tata said in a statement, which Xiaomi’s India operations head Manu Jain
“This is an investment in his personal capacity, not Tata Group,” Jain added, without disclosing the equity or the value of the stake picked up. He told ETthat discussions between Tata and Xiaomi had been on for “more than a few weeks.”
“We will be looking at him as a key advisor for us, so we can go to him from time to time and seek his advice on how do we truly build a truly Indian company. We can’t think of a better advisor than him,” Jain said.
Tata’s investments in India’s fast-growing consumer Internet sector include Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Bluestone and CarDekho. He picked up a small stake in One97 Communications, which owns Paytm, last month.
Counted among the world’s richest people, with a net worth estimated by Forbes at $13.5 billion, Lei Jun founded Xiaomi in 2010. He launched the Mi4i, Xiaomi’s first phone to debut outside China, in India on Thursday. More than 225,000 customers have registered to buy the global flagship smartphone on flipkart within 2 days.