Blackstone platform bets on Indian data binge, in talks with Microsoft, Amazon
By Aditi Shah
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Blackstone is in talks with companies including Microsoft and Amazon to build Indian data centres for them to meet growing storage and processing demand, the CEO of its Lumina CloudInfra data centre platform told Reuters.
COVID-19 created a shift in data consumption habits with more people working remotely and a spike in the use of social media, streaming platforms and e-commerce.
This caused a "data explosion", said Anil Reddy, global CEO of Lumina, which is owned and managed by Blackstone, making this the next major investment for the private equity giant in India.
"It's like you want to do everything from your laptop or your handheld device," said Reddy, who is in talks with "hyperscalers" or large cloud service providers like Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Oracle.
About two-thirds of Blackstone's data centre business in India will come from these companies, Reddy said, with the rest from industries like banking, healthcare and the government.
By 2030 Blackstone plans to set up data centres in five Indian cities with a total capacity of 600 MW (megawatt), Reddy said, while declining to reveal the planned investment.
Sujeet Deshpande, Lumina's CEO for India said during the same interview that the benchmark in India to build data centres is an investment of $6-$6.5 million per megawatt.
Blackstone's plan comes as India steps up efforts to attract more big-ticket investments while pushing to gain stricter oversight of Big Tech firms by nudging them to store data locally. New Delhi is also drafting a cloud and data centre policy to regulate the sector.
Microsoft and Google have ramped up cloud investments in India in recent years and Amazon's cloud computing unit said last week it will invest $13 billion in the South Asian economic powerhouse by 2030.
"We will be one of those who are capturing some of those dollars from there because we will have them as a customer," said Reddy, when asked about Amazon's planned investment.
Microsoft declined to comment. Amazon, Google and Oracle did not respond to requests for comment.
Last month, property consultant JLL forecast India will add 678 MW of data centres between 2023 and 2025 which will create demand for more than 9 million square feet of real estate space at an investment of $4.8 billion.
India's telecom boom and the proliferation of 5G has democratised the internet and broadband with almost every person having a personal connection at home, said Lumina's Deshpande.
That is why data providers want such services closer to their customers so they can provide a seamless experience, he added.
(Reporting by Aditi Shah, additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Alexander Smith)