Delivering on speculations, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL), the retail arm of Mukesh Ambani’s behemoth Reliance Industries, has begun its fundraising campaign. And the campaign has taken off with private equity firm Silver Lake buying a 1.75% stake in Reliance’s retail business for $1.02 billion. This investment will put Reliance Retail at a valuation of $57 billion pre-money.
This is the second investment for Silver Lake in an Ambani owned entity, after its combined $1.35 billion investment in Jio earlier this year.
Expressing his excitement for the new partnership, Ambani said in a statement, “I am delighted to extend our relationship with Silver Lake to our transformational efforts of building an inclusive partnership with millions of small merchants while providing value to Indian consumers across the country in the Indian retail sector. We believe technology will be key to bringing the much-needed transformation in this sector so that various constituents of the retail ecosystem can collaborate to build inclusive growth platforms. Silver Lake will be an invaluable partner in implementing our vision for Indian Retail.”
Reliance Retail is India’s largest and fastest-growing retail business and India. It had recently acquired a majority stake in the second-largest retail firm in India, Future group, that further strengthened its hold in the retail market, and eliminating any major competition that it had. Its new joint venture with Jio to launch the e-commerce platform-JioMart, has paid dividends for the company as it reported huge gains during the pandemic. Thus, it’s no wonder that companies are ready to pounce at the first chance of gaining some equity in the venture, especially since many of them already have ties with the founder through the Jio Platforms partnerships.
Earlier this month, Reliance retail had also reportedly offered the 13 stakeholders of Jio Platforms to invest in RRVL, which led to many speculating that the retail arm of Reliance Industries might follow the Jio Model for its fundraising program. This is because FDI restrictions in India’s retail sector bar foreign direct investment in multi-brand retailing. Thus RIL simply could not exactly ‘partner’ with its investors. However, that doesn’t stop the company from forming financial and strategic partnerships, much like it did with Jio Platforms.
Silver Lake has seemingly built a special affection towards Indian companies, having invested over $2.5 Billion in Indian private companies in this year alone. Most recently, the firm led a $500 million investment round for ed tech platform Byju’s which was announced yesterday, which shows just how interested the firm is in the opportunity that India provides.
Egon Durban, Co-CEO and Managing Partner of Silver Lake, said in a statement, “The success of JioMart in such a short time span, especially while India, along with the rest of the world, battles the COVID-19 pandemic, is truly unprecedented, and the most exciting growth phase has just begun. Reliance’s New Commerce strategy could become the disruptor of this decade. We are thrilled to have been invited to partner with Reliance in their mission for Indian Retail.”
The new injection of funds will give a huge boost to RRVL as it has set ambitions to grow its footprint in the country. According to reports, KKR is in talks with Reliance Retail to invest $1 billion into the retail company.