KKR to invest $2b in Reliance Industries' digital unit, its biggest deal in Asia

Jio Platform has now sold a combined stake of just over 17 per cent in five fundraising deals led by Facebook Inc which spent US$5.7 billion to take 9.99 per cent.
Jio Platform has now sold a combined stake of just over 17 per cent in five fundraising deals led by Facebook Inc which spent US$5.7 billion to take 9.99 per cent.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - US private equity giant KKR & Co will invest 113.67 billion rupees (S$2.1 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 17 per cent in five fundraising deals led by Facebook Inc which spent US$5.7 billion to take 9.99 per 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 2.32 per cent stake, pegs Jio Platforms' equity value at roughly US$65 billion, making it India's second most valuable 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 US 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.