India's Reliance says it has zero net debt after raising more than $23bn
Shares of the company rose as much as 3.3% to a record level on Friday, giving it a market value of $146bn
Reliance Industries, the conglomerate controlled by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, said it has zero net debt months ahead of a March 2021 target after raising more than $23 billion (Dh84.41bn) from stake sales and a rights issue.
India’s most valuable company said in a statement on Friday that it secured $15.2bn by bringing on investors including Facebook and a slew of funds into Jio Platforms, the digital business that is at the heart of Mr Ambani’s ambition to transform his energy-led empire.
Reliance also raised capital by selling shares to existing investors and sold a stake in its energy business to British energy giant BP.
Mr Ambani, who made a pledge to shareholders in August to slash the group’s net debt to zero within 18 months, went on a fundraising spree starting late April, despite India being under lockdown because of the coronavirus.
“It’s an amazing lockdown achievement,” said Chakri Lokapriya, chief investment officer at TCG Asset Management in Mumbai. “The move tells investors that Reliance is transforming the company’s growth engine to a technology platform.”
Shares of Reliance rose as much as 3.3 per cent in Mumbai to a record on Friday, giving it a market value of $146bn.
“I am both delighted and humbled to announce that we have fulfilled our promise,” Mr Ambani, chairman of the group, said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, was the latest to invest in Jio Platforms, announcing its decision to plow in $1.5bn on Thursday in return for a 2.32 per cent stake. The investments - totalling roughly 25 per cent of Jio - value it at about $64bn.
Reliance said the Saudi inflow marks the end of Jio’s current phase of bringing in equity partners.
Jio has attracted more than half of the $30bn investment into telecommunications companies globally this year. Investors are betting on Jio’s access to India’s huge consumer market and its potential to shake up traditional industries in the country - from retail to education and payments - with its technology.
India is the only major open internet market where foreign technology giants such as Amazon, Walmart and Google’s parent Alphabet can compete for market share.
In a move bolstering Mr Ambani’s ambitions, Reliance is closing in on a deal that would see it acquire stakes in some units of Indian retailer, Future Group, which already has a partnership with Amazon, people familiar with the matter said this week.
Updated: June 19, 2020 03:47 PM