Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

Mukesh Ambani’s retail business receives $1bn from US equity firm Silver Lake

The company also invested in Reliance’s Jio Platforms earlier this year

US equity firm Silver Lake Partners picked up a 1.75 per cent stake in Reliance Retail Ventures, the retail arm of India's Reliance Industries. Reuters
US equity firm Silver Lake Partners picked up a 1.75 per cent stake in Reliance Retail Ventures, the retail arm of India's Reliance Industries. Reuters

Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries said it received 75 billion rupees ($1bn/Dh3.7bn) from US equity firm Silver Lake Partners for a 1.75 per cent stake in its retail unit.

Silver Lake had confirmed earlier this month that it is investing in the Indian conglomerate's retail business.

“Reliance Retail Ventures has allotted equity shares to SLP Rainbow Holdings (Silver Lake) following which SLP Rainbow Holdings holds 1.75 per cent of the fully diluted equity share capital of Reliance Retail Ventures,” Reliance Industries said in a statement.

The latest announcement follows a $754 million (Dh2.7bn) investment by the US private equity group KKR, which took a 1.28 per cent stake in Mr Ambani’s retail business last week.

Reliance Retail runs supermarkets, India’s largest consumer electronics chain store, a cash and carry wholesaler, fast-fashion outlets and an online grocery store called JioMart. The unit operates almost 12,000 stores in nearly 7,000 towns. The company reported 1.63 trillion rupees in revenue in the year to the end of March 2020.

“The success of JioMart in such a short time span, especially while India, along with the rest of the world, battles the Covid-19 pandemic, is truly unprecedented, and the most exciting growth phase has just begun,”Egon Durban, co-chief executive and managing partner of Silver Lake, said in an earlier statement.

After attracting nearly $20bn in investment into his telecom business Jio Platforms from players such as Google, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Mubadala Investment Company among others, India's richest man is looking to entice global players to his retail arm even as he expands his operations domestically.

Last month, Reliance Industries agreed to buy the retail and wholesale business and the logistics and warehousing unit of its rival Future Group in a 247.1bn rupees deal, solidifying its grip on the country's retail sector.

Future Group owns about 2,000 retail stores across 400 cities and towns in India. Its portfolio includes flagship supermarket chain Big Bazaar, apparel stores such as Brand Factory and FBB along with a growing chain of small neighbourhood stores including EasyDay and Heritage Fresh, WH Smith and 7-Eleven.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that e-commerce giant Amazon was in talks to acquire a 20 per cent stake in Reliance Retail as well.

Silver Lake, on other hand, is a repeat investor in Reliance. The firm invested $1.35bn in Reliance’s Jio Platforms earlier this year. It also holds stakes in Airbnb, Alibaba, Alphabet’s Verily and Waymo units, Dell Technologies and Twitter.

Updated: September 27, 2020 12:01 PM

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