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KKR joins Reliance bandwagon, invests ₹11,367 crore in Jio Platforms

New York based investment firm KKR & Co. Inc. announced a ₹11,367 crore (~$1.5 billion) investment in Jio Platforms, the holding company for Reliance Jio, on May 21. This gives the investment firm a 2.32% equity stake in Jio, and is its largest investment in Asia. The release says that Jio has accumulated ₹78,562 crore (~$10 billion) from investors over the last month, including this transaction. This is Jio’s fourth significant investment after Facebook, last month, bought a 9.9% stake in the telco for $5.7 billion. In India, KKR has also invested in Bharti Infratel, Coffee Day Resorts, Emerald Media, Ramky Enviro Engineers, and Avendus Capital.

Before this, General Atlantic announced on May 18 that it would invest ₹6,598.38 crore (~$870 million) in Jio Platforms, which also includes Reliance’s other digital ventures.  On May 8, Jio Platforms announced a ₹11,367 crore (~US$1.5 billion) investment from Vista Equity Partners. Silver Lake had announced a ₹5,655.75 crore (~$746 million) investment in Jio Platforms On May 4.

In its earnings call for Q4FY20 on April 30, 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 sell 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; during its earnings call, 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.

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