[Funding alert] Saudi Arabia's PIF invests Rs 9,555 Cr in Reliance Retail

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) invests Rs 9,555 crore in Reliance Industries' retail arm, its second investment in an Ambani firm. It had previously picked up 2.32 percent stake in Jio Platforms, Reliance's digital and telecom arm.
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Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries' retail arm on Thursday raised Rs 9,555 crore from Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, taking the total fundraise in the last two months to Rs 47,265 crore.

PIF will take a 2.04 percent stake in Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL), the Indian firm said in a statement.

The investment values RRVL, the retail arm of Reliance Industries, at a pre-money equity value of Rs 4.587 lakh crore.

This is second investment by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund in an Ambani firm. It had previously picked up 2.32 percent stake in Jio Platforms, the digital and telecom arm of Reliance, for Rs 11,367 crore.

"This investment will further strengthen PIF's presence in India's dynamic economy and promising retail market segment," a statement said.

"The transaction is in line with PIF's strategy as a leading global investor with a proven track record of investing in innovative and transformative companies globally and develop strong partnerships with leading groups in their respective markets," it added.

India's retail sector is one of the largest in the world and accounts for over 10 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) which presents meaningful growth potential.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said: "We, at Reliance, have a long-standing relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. PIF is at the forefront of the economic transformation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"I welcome PIF as a valued partner in Reliance Retail and look forward to their sustained support and guidance as we continue our ambitious journey to transform India's retail sector for enriching the lives of 1.3 billion Indians and millions of small merchants."

Photo: YS Design

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF, said: "We are pleased to be furthering our trusted partnership with Reliance Industries, the leading player in some of India's most exciting sectors. This transaction demonstrates PIF's commitment to investing and partnering for the long term with innovative businesses around the world that lead and transform their sectors."

"This investment further demonstrates PIF's commitment to generating returns for the Saudi people and driving the economic diversification of Saudi Arabia," he said.

Galvanising Indian retail

Reliance Retail Limited, a subsidiary of RRVL, operates India's largest, fast-growing retail business serving close to 640 million footfalls at its 12,000 stores across the country.

Reliance Retail's vision is to galvanise the Indian retail sector through its new commerce strategy, serving millions of customers by empowering millions of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Indian firm said.

RRVL had previously raised Rs 37,710 crore from leading global investors including Silver Lake, KKR, General Atlantic, Mubadala, GIC, TPG and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

The investments equip Reliance Retail with funds to compete in both offline and online formats. The investments come as the country's retail sector prepares for the festival season and would help Reliance to launch an assault on rivals such as Walmart-owned e-commerce company Flipkart and Amazon.

Reliance Retail Ltd operates India's most profitable retail business spanning supermarkets, consumer electronics chain stores, cash-and-carry wholesale business, fast-fashion outlets, and online grocery store JioMart.

It operates about 12,000 stores in nearly 7,000 towns, across core categories of grocery, consumer electronics and apparel.

Consolidating its position

The new funding comes weeks after Reliance acquired the retail, wholesale, logistics and warehouse business of Future Group for an enterprise value of Rs 24,173 crore to consolidate its dominant market positioning in offline retail.

The deal, however, is being challenged by US ecommerce giant Amazon, which had taken a stake in Future's unlisted entity.

Earlier, Reliance raised an unprecedented Rs 1.52 lakh crore for Jio Platforms, the group's telecom and digital services company, from investors such as Facebook, Intel, and Google.

The oil-telecom-to-retail conglomerate intends to divest minority stakes in its digital and retail businesses, and hold initial public offerings for each within five years.

Retailers are expecting to pick up in sales during the current festive season.

Reliance Retail in May this year launched JioMart, an ecommerce venture, to connect mom-and-pop stores, called kiranas, with consumers. In July, JioMart was serving 4,00,000 orders a day and is currently operational in 200 cities.

Reliance Industries has sold a 10.52 percent stake in the retail unit since September 9 for a total of Rs 47,265 crore.

With this, Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail account for over Rs 9 lakh crore of Reliance Industries' valuation.

Edited by Teja Lele