Mukesh Ambani lines up more investors for Reliance Retail after Silver Lake; KKR may put in $1 billion

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Updated: Sep 09, 2020 11:10 AM

KKR & Co. is in advanced talks to invest at least $1 billion in the retail business of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani.

KKR is in discussions for a stake in Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd., a unit of the largest retailer in India.

KKR & Co. is in advanced talks to invest at least $1 billion in the retail business of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, according to people familiar with the matter, in what could be another U.S. investment in the unit following Silver Lake’s deal. KKR is in discussions for a stake in Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd., a unit of the largest retailer in India, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The private equity firm could invest as much as $1.5 billion and an announcement could come as soon as this month, one of the people said.

Negotiations are ongoing and could be delayed or fall apart, the people said. Representatives for KKR and Reliance didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Weeks after Ambani, 63, raised about $20 billion selling stakes in his technology venture to investors including Facebook Inc. and Google, the tycoon is seeking to repeat the same with his retail business. Silver Lake on Wednesday agreed to invest 75 billion rupees ($1 billion) into Reliance Retail Ventures, valuing the business at about 4.2 trillion rupees.

Earlier this year, Silver Lake plowed $1.35 billion into a stake in Ambani’s Jio Platforms Ltd. telecommunications and digital services unit, while KKR invested $1.5 billion.

Reliance Retail — a unit of the energy-to-telecommunications conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. — runs supermarkets, India’s largest consumer electronics chain store, a cash and carry wholesaler, fast-fashion outlets and an online grocery store called JioMart. It reported 1.63 trillion rupees in revenue in the year through March 2020. The unit operates almost 12,000 stores in nearly 7,000 towns.

Ambani, the richest man in Asia, is also boosting his grocery and apparel businesses through acquisitions.

Reliance last month said it is buying assets of debt-strapped rival Future Group for 247.1 billion rupees, almost doubling the footprint of its retail chains. The deal includes Future’s retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd. said Aug. 29 in a statement.

Also last month, Reliance acquired a majority equity stake in the digital pharmacy market place Netmeds for 6.2 billion rupees. It is also in negotiations to either buy out or purchase stakes in companies including Urban Ladder, an online furniture seller and Zivame, a lingerie maker, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ambani’s success in luring investors to Jio Platforms and now his retail business has also led to an increase in his personal wealth. As shares of Reliance Industries rallied, he has added about $22 billion to his net worth this year, advancing his rank among the world’s richest to No. 7, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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