With crude futures for coming months sometimes going negative due to the COVID-19, this is a surreal time to be in the oil business. But Reliance’s unusual diversification into telecom has given the company a bit of a bright spot. Jio is now worth more than the company’s other businesses put together (in financial markets, that is). The boost is a result of Facebook buying an enormous $5.7 billion stake in Jio Platforms for 9.9% of the holding, which owns Jio as well as all of Reliance’s digital ventures.

  • Reliance will solicit more capital for Jio: After Facebook’s 9.9% stake, “RIL has received strong interest from other strategic and financial investors and is in good shape to announce a similar sized investment in the coming months,” the company said in its press release for Q4FY2020. Amassing capital this way will build a solid base for Reliance to get the next phase of its telecom plans rolled out.
  • Increased focus on telecom and B2C: Reliance is preparing to selling off a significant oil and petrochemicals wing, worth tens of billions of dollars. Now that telecom and home delivery are among the few industries which are likely to survive the throes of this pandemic, the company’s focus on telecom is likely to intensify. With its own $21 billion infusion into Jio Platforms and Facebook’s capital, the company is likely to double down on these businesses. Its existing retail network and size will help it scale.
  • Will Jio deliver? As JioMart pilots in Maharashtra, Jio’s integration with WhatsApp will determine the shape of things to come. Under normal circumstances, JioMart would be a calculated risk with all the competition in place. But Jio’s resources and a sharp uptick in preference for home delivered groceries should give Jio a solid opportunity to make a mark here, and make it fast; in its earnings call yesterday, the company said it would accelerate JioMart’s deployment in the coming months. What’s more, groceries have driven Reliance Retail’s growth in the past quarter (with a year-over-year growth of 107%), so home delivery should boost those revenues further.

The numbers

For the quarter ending March 2020:

  • Over 388 million Internet connections in India, with over 300 million of them monthly active connections.
  • Subscriber ARPU of $1.72 (Rs 130.6) per month.
  • Data Traffic of 1,284 crore GB.
  • Average data consumption per user per month: 11.3 GB.
  • Average voice consumption per user per month of 771 minutes.

RIL Press Release | Jio Press Release