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American private equity firm KKR invests USD 754 million in Reliance Retail

Written by Moulishree Srivastava Published on 

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Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and American PE firm Carlyle have also shown interest in investing in Reliance Retail.

Three weeks after raising USD 1 billion from Silicon Valley investor Silver Lake for its retail arm, Reliance Industries has brought the second heavyweight global investor on the cap table of Reliance Retail.

India’s largest company by market capitalization, owned by Asia’s richest person Mukesh Ambani, on Wednesday, said New York-headquartered private equity firm KKR will invest INR 5,550 crore (USD 754.3 million) into Reliance Retail. The deal values Reliance Retail at a pre-money equity value of INR 421,000 crore (USD 57.2 billion), and gives KKR an equity stake of 1.28% in the firm.

This is the second investment by KKR in Reliance. The American PE firm had invested USD 1.5 billion in Jio Platforms, Reliance’s digital arm, earlier in May.

It is to be noted that both Silver Lake and KKR are now common investors in Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail. With their investment in the latter, they are betting on Reliance’s new-commerce story, wherein Ambani is gearing up to create an omnichannel retail empire, leveraging his four-month-old e-commerce venture, JioMart. A joint venture between Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, JioMart was rolled out in 200 cities in May.

Ambani’s big idea is to create a layer of online commerce with JioMart on top of the digital layer he has created with Jio Platforms and integrate with its offline chain of retail stores. While Jio Platforms boasts of nearly 400 million online subscribers, Reliance Retail clocks close to 640 million footfalls annually in 12,000 stores spread across the country.

“Reliance Retail, through its New Commerce strategy, has started a transformational digitalization of small and unorganized merchants and is committed to expanding the network to over 20 million of these merchants,” the oil-to-internet conglomerate, said in a statement.

This will enable the merchants to use technology tools and an efficient supply chain infrastructure to deliver a superior value proposition to their own customers, it added.

“Reliance Retail’s new commerce platform is filling an important need for both consumers and small businesses as more Indian consumers move to shopping online and the company offers tools for kiranas to be a critical part of the value chain,” Henry Kravis, co-founder and co-CEO of KKR, said in a statement. He added that KKR is supporting Reliance’s mission to become India’s leading omnichannel retailer.

The 44-year-old private equity firm KKR, which has backed some high profile companies including China’s ByteDance and Indonesia’s GoJek, manages assets worth USD 222 billion currently. In India, where KKR has been present for over 13 years, it has put in money in Bharti Infratel, Avendus Capital, Max Financial Services, and EuroKid, among others.

According to a Bloomberg report earlier this month, Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and American PE firm Carlyle have also shown interest in investing in Reliance Retail, but Reliance chairman and managing director Ambani has put them on a waiting list.

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