KKR to invest US$1.5 billion in Reliance Industries' digital unit, its biggest deal in Asia

KKR to invest US$1.5 billion in Reliance Industries' digital unit, its biggest deal in Asia

KKR & Co Inc will invest US$1.5 billion in Reliance Industries' Jio Platforms, its biggest investment in Asia to date and bringing the amount of new funds raised by the Indian digital company this month to a massive US$10 billion.

A woman checks her mobile phone as she walks past a mobile store of Reliance Industries' Jio t
A woman checks her mobile phone as she walks past a mobile store of Reliance Industries' Jio telecoms unit, in Mumbai, India, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

NEW DELHI: KKR & Co Inc will invest US$1.5 billion in Reliance Industries' Jio Platforms, its biggest investment in Asia to date and bringing the amount of new funds raised by the Indian digital company this month to a massive US$10 billion.

Jio Platforms, which houses movie, music apps and telecoms venture Jio Infocomm, has now sold a combined stake of just over 17per cent in five fundraising deals led by Facebook Inc which spent US$5.7 billion to take 9.99per cent.

The deals highlight Jio Platforms' potential to become the dominant player in India's digital economy. The telecoms unit has already decimated several rivals with cut-throat pricing, while it can count on Reliance's retail network to expand e-commerce. It is also working on connected cars, security systems and smart homes.

KKR's purchase of a 2.32per cent stake for 113.67 billion rupees, pegs Jio Platforms' equity value at roughly US$65 billion, making it India's second most valuable standalone tech firm after IT services company Tata Consultancy Services.

"We are investing behind Jio Platforms' impressive momentum, world-class innovation and strong leadership team," Henry Kravis, co-founder and co-CEO of the U.S. buyout firm, said in a statement on Friday.

The US$10 billion in new funds raised will also help Reliance meet its target of eliminating US$21.4 billion in net debt this year. The oil-to-telecoms giant, controlled by Asia's richest man Mukesh Ambani, is also selling US$7 billion in new shares.

Often saying "data is the new oil", Ambani has sought to diversify his empire away from energy and petrochemicals, beginning in 2016 with the establishment of Jio Infocomm which is now India's biggest telecom carrier with more than 376 million subscribers.

The other recent investors were General Atlantic, Silver Lake and Vista Equity Partners.

KKR has invested more than US$30 billion in tech companies, including China's ByteDance and Indonesian digital payments firm GoJek.

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Source: Reuters

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