Asset management giant Brookfield and data centre trust Digital Realty have brought in Reliance Industries as a local partner in the pair’s existing joint venture to develop, own and operate data centres in India.
Reliance, the conglomerate controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, will participate via its Jio Platforms tech arm in the JV, which is rebranded as Digital Connexion: A Brookfield, Jio and Digital Realty Company, the partners said Tuesday in a release.
Canada’s Brookfield, US-based Digital Realty and Reliance will each own one-third of Digital Connexion. The platform will tap Jio’s digital and connectivity ecosystem, including a wireless network with deep fibre presence that covers 99.5 percent of India’s world-leading population.
“We are very pleased to expand our existing partnership with Reliance and add their deep expertise in the Indian telecom, tech and data landscape to the platform,” said Arpit Agrawal, managing director and head of infrastructure for India and Middle East at Brookfield. “Data centres provide essential services and critical infrastructure to support the digitalisation that is taking place in every aspect of life in India.”
Brookfield, which has $825 billion of assets under management worldwide, and Digital Realty first announced their India venture in July 2021 as a 50:50 partnership operating under the brand name BAM Digital Realty.
“Digital Realty has developed and today manages over 300 data centers worldwide,” said Serene Nah, managing director and head of Asia Pacific for Digital Realty. “Our deep expertise enabling digitalization globally, combined with Brookfield’s deep on-ground experience and RIL’s connectivity networks in the country, brings a wealth of resources and expertise to the new JV that will support India’s digitalization aspirations and vision to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2027.”
Nah added that India’s rapid adoption of digital business models, combined with the country’s scale and supportive government policies position it as a high growth market with untapped potential.
Brookfield and Digital Realty had previously teamed up to acquire and expand a Latin American platform, Ascenty, which manages 28 data centres in Brazil, Chile and Mexico.
BAM Digital Realty bought a 30 acre (12 hectare) land parcel in Navi Mumbai for INR 600 crore ($81 million) in 2021 and picked up a 2.2 acre plot in metro Mumbai’s Chandivali in June for a 35-megawatt project. The JV broke ground earlier this year on a 100MW campus at Chennai’s Ambattur Industrial Estate.
Digital Connexion will have a dedicated management team in India with leadership oversight from Brookfield, Digital Realty and Reliance, with an initial focus on developing the data centre campuses on the land parcels in Mumbai and Chennai.
Jio Platforms CEO Kiran Thomas said the partnership would help the company serve its enterprise and small-business clients with cutting-edge, plug-and-play solutions from the cloud and make them more competitive and efficient.
“The unique and highly engaging consumer and home experiences that we are offering and further innovating on, such as high-definition live content, AR/VR experiences, cloud gaming, immersive shopping experiences and cloud PC have massive compute capacity requirements,” Thomas said. “We would like to thank the Indian government for granting infrastructure status to data centres and for creating a favourable ecosystem for their development and operations, which is critical for India’s vision to become a $1 trillion digital economy by 2025.”
Riding the Boom
Colliers reported in December that India’s data centre stock was set to double in three years to reach as much as 20 million square feet (1.85 million square metres) and 1,500MW, driven by a regional e-commerce boom and increasing adoption of smart devices and cloud services.
In February, Singapore-based Digital Edge entered the Indian market by setting up a JV with AGP Sustainable Real Assets and a state-backed investor to build a portfolio of hyperscale facilities including a $2 billion project in Mumbai.
In May, Blackstone’s Lumina CloudInfra began construction of its first hyperscale campus in India — a 60MW project in Navi Mumbai’s Airoli area — with completion to take place by 2025. The private equity giant launched Lumina last November as the firm’s first wholly owned data centre platform in Asia.