General Atlantic to invest Rs 3,675 cr into Reliance Retail for 0.84% stake

Investors like Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority could be next, though a Reliance spokesperson said they could not comment on market speculation.
Reliance Industries (RIL) on Wednesday said that private equity (PE) firm General Atlantic would invest Rs 3,675 crore in its subsidiary Reliance Retail for a 0.84 per cent stake, making it the third deal to be announced in three weeks by the Mukesh Ambani-led company.


However, people in the know said a strategic investor could be inducted later, stepping up the stake sale process, which has so far involved small deals. PE firms Silver Lake, KKR, and now General Atlantic, have together put in Rs 16,725 crore into Reliance Retail for a total 3.87 per cent stake at a valuation of Rs 4.2 trillion.


Investors like Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority could be next, though a Reliance spokesperson said they could not comment on market speculation.


“As a policy we do not comment on media speculation and rumours. Our company evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis. We have made and will continue to make necessary disclosures in compliance with our obligations under Sebi and our agreements with the stock exchanges,” the spokesperson said.


The RIL stock was down 0.49 per cent on the BSE to close trade at Rs 2,233.75 per share on Wednesday.


Deven Choksey, managing director, KR Choksey Investment Managers, said 20-25 per cent stake could be offloaded by Reliance Retail as part of its divestment programme and that the strategic investor could be a retail company.

“While the smaller transactions will be wrapped up first with financial investors, the bigger deal could come later, which will involve a strategic investor, preferably a retail company that can help Reliance with its supply-chain management,” said Choksey, who tracks RIL and its subsidiaries.


Earlier, there was speculation of Amazon wanting to invest in Reliance Retail, though both companies denied it. Amazon remains a small investor in Future Enterprises, the residual entity that houses the manufacturing, distribution and sourcing operations of Future group's fast-moving consumer goods and fashion brands after the sale of its retail assets to Reliance. The group's textiles and insurance joint ventures are also part of this firm.


Choksey said collaboration between online and offline players would be critical for incumbents to offer a strong omni-channel play at a time of growing convergence. Ironically, Future group founder Kishore Biyani, who has now virtually exited retail after the Reliance deal barring his interest in home retailing, was a strong advocate of online-offline tie-ups, saying this was the way forward.


On Tuesday, reports emerged of Walmart looking to invest in Tata group’s digital platform, though both companies have denied it.


In its annual report for financial year 2019-20 (FY20), Reliance Retail said it was on a path to transform traditional retail through its JioMart platform. The company has about 12,000 stores of its own and with the Future deal will get an additional 1,800 stores.


While Reliance Retail has individual online channels for fashion, lifestyle and electronics, the JioMart model will see all these converge on one platform, experts tracking the market said.

The Future stores under brands such as Big Bazaar, Central, and Brand Factory, which have been acquired by Reliance Retail, will also be made available on the Jio platform. Sellers would have an advantage, too, Reliance Retail said, since JioMart could act as a centralised procurement and delivery centre.


Though the transaction value on JioMart remains at an average of Rs 500 per order, this could go up as fashion, lifestyle and electronics converge. In FY20, Reliance Retail’s consumer electronics outlets constituted 73 per cent of its nearly 12,000 stores, fashion and lifestyle made up 20.2 per cent and grocery constituted 6.8 per cent, the annual report said.


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