Reliance Industries is set to raise USD 870 million from American private equity firm General Atlantic by selling a 1.34% equity stake in its digital arm, Jio Platforms, India’s largest conglomerate by market capitalization said in a regulatory filing on Sunday.
In the past four weeks, this is Jio Platforms’ fourth fundraise after Facebook, Silver Lake, and Vista Equity Partners picked up stakes in the Mumbai-based company owned by Asia’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani. The recent investment values Jio Platforms at an equity value of USD 65 billion and an enterprise value of USD 68 billion, the same valuation that was considered for the deal with Vista Equity Partners barely 10 days ago.
Facebook inked the USD 5.7 billion investment deal for a 9.9% stake late last month. For Reliance, this was more than just a financial investment from Facebook. According to the agreement, Reliance’s e-commerce venture JioMart would use WhatsApp to sell its products directly through Facebook’s messaging platform. Earlier this month, PE firms Silver Lake and Vista Equity Partners came on Reliance’s cap table by writing checks worth USD 746.7 million and USD 1.5 billion, respectively. Silver Lake now owns an estimated 1.15% stake in Jio Platforms, while Vista Equity holds 2.32%.
The latest funding will bring the total investments in Jio Platforms to INR 67,194.75 crores (USD 8.85 billion), the company said. By roping in the four giant tech investors for Jio Platforms, Ambani is closer to his aim of eliminating Reliance’s USD 21.4 billion net debt by the end of this year.
Jio Platforms is an umbrella entity under which Reliance has created an eco-system comprising of its telecom network, devices, apps, content, platforms, and services. The four-year-old Reliance Jio, the telecom arm of the oil-to-retail conglomerate, that disrupted the world’s second-largest telecommunications market with its dirt-cheap data plans, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jio Platforms. Reliance has reportedly infused over USD 30 billion to build Jio Platforms.
Relying on this venture, Reliance has been able to sell its vision of creating a digital India to 1.3 billion Indians, primarily focusing on millions of small merchants, micro-businesses, and farmers.
In a statement, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani said he has known General Atlantic for several decades and that the PE firm shares its “vision of a digital society for India and strongly believes in the transformative power of digitization in enriching the lives of 1.3 billion Indians.”
General Atlantic, which manages USD 35 billion in assets globally, is a backer of some of the world’s largest tech-enabled companies including Airbnb, Alibaba, Ant Financial, Box, ByteDance, Facebook, Slack, Snapchat, and Uber.
In India, the PE firm has invested in edtech giants Byju’s and Unacademy, online real estate startup NoBroker, and payments processor BillDesk, among others. To date, General Atlantic has poured USD 3 billion in India and is now looking to invest an additional USD 1 to 1.5 billion in consumer tech companies by next year, the company said last week.
“As long-term backers of global technology leaders and visionary entrepreneurs, we could not be more excited about investing in Jio,” Bill Ford, CEO, General Atlantic, said in a statement. “General Atlantic has a long track record working alongside founders to scale disruptive businesses, as Jio is doing at the forefront of the digital revolution in India.”
“In just three and a half years, Jio has had a transformational impact in democratizing data and digital services, propelling India to be positioned as a leading global digital economy,” added Sandeep Naik, managing director and head of India & Southeast Asia at General Atlantic.
After Reliance announced the Facebook deal, Bloomberg Quint reported that Reliance was on the lookout to raise an additional USD 6 billion from the sale of shares in Jio Platforms. Having raised now USD 8.85 billion of the almost USD 12 billion, Ambani is likely to continue his fund-raising spree. According to another Bloomberg report, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is also considering to buy a minority stake in Jio Platforms.