After raising over $20Bn for Jio Platforms in a record fund raising spree that spanned across the peak of COVID-19, Mukesh Ambani is now turning to rest of his tech ventures to raise even more money. A new report from Livemint suggests, that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund QIA (Qatar Investment Authority) could take up $1.5Bn worth of stake in Reliance JioFiber. As the name suggests, JioFiber takes care of all of Reliance Jio’s fiber cable broadband internet network across India.
According to the report, both sides are on an “advanced stage” of talks. QIA will invest the said $1.5Bn in an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) that holds the company’s fibre-optic assets. Needless to say, the investment in JioFiber will tie directly to those in Jio Platforms. While Jio Platforms is all about wireless connectivity and digital products, JioFiber will act as the ground support cavalry that will lay down a wide-coverage cabled fiber network across India.
In March last year, Reliance did a strategic rejig of its telecom business units to prepare for individual fundraising in each one of them. Telecom subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm demerged its fibre and tower businesses into Jio Digital Fibre Pvt. Ltd and Reliance Jio Infratel Pvt. Ltd. Jio Infocomm remains a sponsor in both demerged entities.
According to people who spoke with Mint, Reliance Jio Infocomm will continue as the sponsor of the InvIT and retain a minimum 15% stake. The remaining 85% would be sold to global investors, including Qatar Investment Authority. ““Qatar Investment may invest $1.5-2 billion in RIL’s fibre business”, said one of the person’s aware of the deal.
JioFiber already has a presence across India in a large number of cities, and has done commendable work in reaching to Tier II/III cities with high speed internet. The service already has 700,000 kms of lines laid across India. Plan is to take that up to 1.1 Million kms soon. JioFiber offers plans across the aisle for all sorts of customers, with speeds topping up to as high as 1 Gbps.
For Qatar Investment Authority, the timing couldn’t be better. For one, India recently relaxed rules and provided tax exemptions for investments by sovereign wealth funds in the country’s infrastructure space. Secondly, this gives QIA a piece of perhaps the biggest telecom conglomerate that the world has ever seen. Reliance Jio Platforms along with other Reliance telecom businesses have an aggressive plan to introduce everything from ecommerce to 5G to mixed reality gaming to education and beyond.