Saudi Arabia's wealth fund buys 2.04% stake in Reliance Retail Ventures

This investment values Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL) at a pre-money equity value of Rs 4.587 trillion ($62.4 billion)
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) will invest Rs 9,555 crore ($1.29 billion) for 2.04 per cent equity stake in Reliance Industries’ (RIL’s) retail arm. This investment values Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL) at a pre-money equity value of Rs 4.587 trillion ($62.4 billion). The firms said the investment would further strengthen PIF’s presence in India’s dynamic economy and promising retail market segment.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (colloquially known as MBS) is the chairman of PIF. The fund manages around $320 billion of assets. It had picked up stake in Tesla, Uber Technologies, and SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund to expand its global portfolio. The other firms include Facebook, Boeing, and Disney.

The investment in RRVL follows PIF’s earlier acquisition of 2.32 per cent stake in Jio Platforms — the digital services subsidiary of RIL.

“We are pleased to be furthering our trusted partnership with RIL,” said Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of PIF, who also sits on Uber’s board and is a board director at SoftBank Group.

He said this transaction demonstrates PIF’s commitment to investing and partnering for the long term, with innovative businesses around the world that lead and transform their sectors.

The transaction in RRVL is in line with PIF’s strategy as a leading global investor for investing in innovative and transformative companies globally. The aim is to also forge strong partnerships with leading groups in their respective markets. India’s retail sector is one of the largest in the world and accounts for over 10 per cent of its gross domestic product.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of RIL, said Reliance has a long-standing relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“PIF is at the forefront of economic transformation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Ambani, adding, “I welcome PIF as a valued partner in Reliance Retail and look forward to their sustained support and guidance as we continue our ambitious journey to transform India’s retail sector for enriching the lives of 1.3 billion Indians and millions of small merchants.”

RRVL, a subsidiary of RIL is the holding company of Reliance Retail, which operates the retail business.

Reliance Retail operates India’s largest, fast-growing retail business, serving close to 640 million footfall at its 12,000 stores across the country. Reliance Retail’s vision is to galvanise the Indian retail sector through its new commerce strategy, serving millions of customers by empowering millions of micro, small and medium enterprises.

The latest transaction takes the total fundraising by RIL to Rs 47,265 crore in the past few months from global investors, including Silver Lake, KKR, General Atlantic, Mubadala, GIC, TPG, and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

RIL has also secured investments from some of the world’s largest tech firms, including Google, Facebook, and Intel for Jio Platforms.

RIL recently said that it would look at more acquisitions to strengthen its new e-commerce venture JioMart.

RIL acquired online pharmacy Netmeds in August and will add the pharmacy channel to the JioMart cart in the future.

The funding deals are also seen by analysts as a powerful alliance to help RIL take on formidable players in the e-commerce and payments space such as Jeff Bezos-led Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart.

Only 7 per cent of the $1.2-trillion retail market is online, and players, including Amazon, Flipkart, and JioMart, are competing with one another and eyeing the remaining 93 per cent.

A recent report by investment firm Goldman Sachs says that JioMart is poised to sell half of all online grocery in the next few years, led by significant investment by the company.

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