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Reliance Retail increases stake in JustDial as part of its e-commerce push

Reliance’s retail venture had struck a deal with the local search engine company ahead of unveiling its super app.

A preferential allotment of 2,11,77,636 equity shares at Rs. 1,022.25 per share has been approved by Justdial’s board to Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd., according to a Bombay Stock Exchange filing on September 2. RRVL’s stake in Justdial now stands at 40.98 percent of the total number of equity shares, the regulatory filing added.  With this investment, RRVL is a promoter in the company.

What is a preferential allotment? A preferential issue is an issue of shares or convertible securities by listed or unlisted companies to a select group of investors, but it is neither a rights issue nor a public issue, as per an Economic Times article

This share allotment helps Reliance Retail which is working on integrating Justdial’s services into JioMart, its small business e-commerce platform, by developing a super app, according to Economic Times. The revamped JioMart will contain Justdial’s database of millions of merchants and users and help fine-tune its service, Livemint reported. 

What else do we know about this deal? 

The deal between Justdial and Reliance was announced in July this year. RRVL held a stake of 15.63 percent, before the Preferential Issue, by purchasing 13.1 million equity shares from Justdial’s founder V.S.S Mani at a price of  ₹1,020 per share, Livemint reported. V.S.S. Mani will continue to lead the company as its managing director and chief executive officer, the report added.

RRVL has also announced to the shareholders that it will further acquire up to 21.7 million shares (26 percent) in an open offer. 

Reliance’s e-commerce push

Reliance’s retail venture has sought to grow its share in the e-commerce space over the last couple of years.  It has acquired several businesses to help improve its e-commerce offerings:

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  • Urban Ladder: Reliance Retail has invested more than Rs. 182 crore in online furniture retailer Urban Ladder in return for a 96% stake in the company.
  • NetMeds: Reliance Retail also has a stake in NetMeds, an online pharmacy portal, to the tune of 60 percent.

Apart from this acquisition spree, the company also joined hands with Google and Facebook to leverage their expertise. Google bought a 7.73 percent stake whereas Facebook got a 9.9 percent stake. The deal with Facebook was significant as Reliance Retail and WhatsApp agreed to a commercial partnership to push JioMart on WhatsApp, MediaNama reported previously. JioMart is a joint venture between Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail.

The increased focus on e-commerce led to Reliance Retail’s indigenous e-commerce portals such as AJIO, and Reliance Digital registering growth in both customers and value last year. AJIO, its lifestyle fashion website, saw its orders swell four times during the pandemic.

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