Xiaomi bolsters India plans with strategic investment by Ratan Tata

Ratan TataChinese smartphone maker Xiaomi's India dreams got a big push with Ratan Tata, the doyen of Indian Industry, taking a stake in the company. Tata, 77, is the chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, the holding company of the 100-odd Tata Group companies,

Xiaomi, which only a day earlier stated it wanted to be local player in India, did not reveal details of the investment, but said the investment was proof enough for its claim to be a local player.

Xiaomi, after raising $1.1 billion last year, is currently the No3 smartphone maker globally, and was valued at $45 billion after a December funding round. The company, however, did not confirm the valuation.

Ratan Tata, Xiaomi said, would act as an ''advisor'' as well as an investor.

The announcement of Tata's investment comes days after Xiaomi revealed its first phone customised to the South Asia country (the $205 Mi 4i).

"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 chief executive officer of Xiaomi, said in a statement.

"We are looking forward to bringing more products into India," he said.

Of late, Tata has been taking active interest in India's technology startups, and his portfolio currently also includes an investment in Paytm, the payments firm that took money from Alibaba at a billion dollar valuation.

Earlier, speaking at the launch of its India-specific smartphone Mi 4i on Saturday,  Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun termed India as an important part of Xiaomi's business focus.

The smartphone maker is also keen to set up an R&D centre, as it aims to become the top handset maker in India within five years.

Xiaomi clocked one million sales within its first five months of operations and, according to analyst firm IDC, it could rise up the rankings thanks to the launch of the Mi 4i. The new smarthone, which includes its localised tweaks, hopes to raise Xiaomi's India stakes further aided by both physical and online retail stores.