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SoftBank, Bharti & Foxconn join hands for renewable energy JV; may invest $20B in India

Japanese internet and telecom major SoftBank Corp has joined hands with Taiwan-based design & electronics manufacturing services firm Foxconn Technology Group and Indian business conglomerate Bharti Enterprises Ltd to form a joint venture for producing renewable energy in the country.

The new venture christened SBG Cleantech Ltd envisages an investment of around $20 billion over a period of time.

SoftBank would own a majority stake in the three-way JV while the other two would be minority partners.

Manoj Kohli, former CEO of Bharti Group's flagship telecom firm Bharti Airtel, who until recently led Bharti's emerging businesses, will join SBG Cleantech as executive chairman while Raman Nanda from SoftBank, will become CEO of the new company, the firms said in a joint statement on Monday.

The JV would be headquartered in Delhi.

"With this partnership, our goal is to create a market-leading ‎clean energy company, to fuel India's growth with clean and renewable sources of energy," said Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank.

This is another big bet on India by SoftBank. The tech giant has already invested around $1 billion in a handful of Indian internet companies including Snapdeal, Ola and Housing.com. Bulk of its investment has gone into the e-commerce marketplace Snapdeal.

Last year, Son had said SoftBank may invest as much as $10 billion over the next decade. SoftBank recently elevated India-born Nikesh Arora as its president and COO, making him the de facto number 2 executive below Son and prime contender to take over as CEO as and when Son hangs his boots.

SoftBank already has a significant presence in the renewable energy space with solar power projects in its home country. This JV will expand its international footprint and also diversify its business operations further beyond its bread and butter telecom services and internet ventures.

This is also second Indian JV for SoftBank with Bharti Group. It already has a tech services JV under Bharti SoftBank (BSB), which has tech properties such as instant messenger Hike under its fold.

"Just as mobile phones have connected every Indian, renewable power has the potential to provide every Indian with access to electricity. SBG Cleantech underlines our commitment to India's growth plans not only by eliminating energy deficit but also providing clean environment to the future generations of India," said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman, Bharti Enterprises.

SBG Cleantech aims to participate in the 2015-16 round of solar power plant tenders ‎under the National Solar Mission (NSM) programme.

"Harnessing renewable energy is a key pillar in our social and environmental responsibilities (SER) strategy and we are excited to join our industry partners, SoftBank and Bharti, in championing clean energy solutions in India through SBG Cleantech and supporting the country's efforts to grow its renewable energy industry," said Terry Gou, founder and CEO, Foxconn Technology Group.

India has achieved a base of 3.7 GW of solar power. Last week, the government raised the target of solar power capacity installation five times to 100 GW (1,00,000 MW) in India including 40 GW rooftop and 60 GW through large and medium scale grid connected solar power projects by 2022.

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