After massive investments from Facebook and Silver Lake, Jio Platforms now has a Rs 11,367 crore (US$1.5 billion) investment from Vista Equity Partners. Reliance Industries Limited announced the investment today in a press release. This brings the amount of external investment Jio Platforms has gotten in the last month alone Rs 60,596.37 crore, which is over one fourth of the total assets of both Vodafone Idea and Airtel. As the COVID-19 pandemic batters economies internationally, investors like the Texas-based Vista are turning their focus onto industries which have shown resilience, and maybe even promise. Telecom is one of those industries, with Jio Platforms in particular benefitting from its e-commerce ambitions. Jio Platforms is a holding company for Jio and Reliance’s other digital ventures.
Silver Lake announced a Rs 5,655.75 crore investment in Jio Platforms on May 4, less than two weeks after Facebook had announced a Rs 43,754 crore investment on April 22 for a 9.99% stake in the holding.
In its earnings call for Q4FY2019–20, RIL had said that investments similar to size in Facebook were going to follow in the coming months. A key part of Jio Platforms in addition to the Jio network is JioMart, the grocery home delivery service that will be closely integrated with Facebook’s WhatsApp, which 400 million people have installed in India.
- 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.