The Public Investment Fund, which has this year invested $1.5 billion in Mukesh Ambani’s telecom venture Jio Platforms and more than half a billion dollars in his fiber-optic business, has returned to back yet another empire built by India’s richest man.
The sovereign wealth fund is investing $1.3 billion in Reliance Retail for a 2.04% equity stake in the largest retail chain in India. The investment values Reliance Retail, which was founded in 2006, at $62.4 billion, the Indian firm said.
Reliance Retail, which serves more than 3.5 million customers each week (as of early this year) through its nearly 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country, has now raised over 6.4 billion since September this year.
Ambani (pictured above), who raised more than $20 billion for Jio Platforms this year from a roster of marquee investors including Facebook and Google, is expected to raise another few billion dollars for Reliance Retail by the end of the year. One of the companies that is widely expected to invest in Reliance Retail is Amazon, which has poured in over $6.5 billion in its India business to date.
The two commerce giants are currently stuck in a deadlock over Reliance’s $3.4 billion acquisition of several businesses of Future Retail, the second largest retail chain in India. Amazon, which owns a small stake in one of Future Retail’s subsidiaries, is fighting a legal battle to block the deal between Reliance and Future Retail. Future Retail and Reliance Industries have said that they intend to proceed with their deal.
“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,” said Ambani, who runs Reliance Retail’s parent firm, Reliance Industries, in a statement today.
As for Reliance Retail, the retail chain last year entered the e-commerce space with JioMart through a joint venture with Jio Platforms. JioMart now has a presence in over 200 Indian cities and towns, and it also maintains a partnership with Facebook for WhatsApp integration. Facebook, which invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms earlier this year, has said it will explore various ways to work with Reliance to digitize the nation’s 60 million mom and pop stores, as well as other small and medium-sized businesses.
“We are pleased to be furthering our trusted partnership with Reliance Industries, the leading player in some of India’s most exciting sectors,” said Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF, in a statement. “This investment further demonstrates PIF’s commitment to generating returns for the Saudi people and driving the economic diversification of Saudi Arabia.”