The logo of Reliance Jio, the mobile network of Reliance Industries Ltd., is displayed at a store in Mumbai, India. | Photographer: Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg
(Representational image) The logo of Reliance Jio, the mobile network of Reliance Industries | Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg
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Abu Dhabi: Reliance Industries Ltd. added to the roster of marquee backers piling into its digital upstart Jio Platforms Ltd. with a $1.2 billion investment by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co.

The deal gives the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund a stake of 1.85% at an equity value of $65 billion for Jio Platforms, the Mumbai-based company said Friday in a statement. Reliance, backed by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is also in advanced talks with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News this week.

The Mubadala agreement adds to the $10 billion that Jio Platforms has raised in recent weeks as it starts early preparations for an overseas stock listing. High-profile backers from Facebook Inc. to KKR & Co. are betting on Jio’s access to India’s 1.35 billion people as the country’s No. 1 wireless carrier and its potential to use online services to grow in industries including retail, entertainment and payments.

The string of investments will go toward Ambani’s stated goal of slashing net debt to zero at Reliance Industries, an oil refining, petrochemicals, retail and telecommunications conglomerate that’s India’s largest company. The outside money has also helped set a valuation for Jio as it prepares for a listing. The Mubadala deal gives Jio an enterprise value of $68 billion, according to Reliance.

Also, the string of deals have sent Reliance Industries shares soaring 80% since late March.

Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Jio in April for a roughly 10% stake. The vast social media network is looking to build a commerce business for its WhatsApp messaging service and was eager to work with Jio to take advantage of the company’s JioMart e-commerce platform and its relationship with Indian merchants. Facebook has a massive presence in India, with more than 400 million WhatsApp users alone, and the two sides had worked together previously when Facebook built a version of its WhatsApp messaging product for a Jio phone in 2018.

Mubadala, which has offices outside Abu Dhabi in San Francisco, New York, Moscow and elsewhere, made a $15 billion commitment to the SoftBank Vision Fund and launched a number of tech funds in the U.S., Europe and its home base. The fund, which has $229 billion in assets, has also been divesting some of its technology and other assets to redeploy proceeds to new investments. Last year, it sold 34.9 million shares in Advanced Micro Devices Inc. In March, Mubadala helped lead a $2.25 billion investment in Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car unit. –Bloomberg 

Also read: Only Mukesh: How Dhirubhai Ambani’s son is on his way to owning India’s digital market


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