Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Projects has decided to sell its 1.34 percent stake to General Atlantic, the latest in a string of transactions that have been struck in recent weeks by the biggest Indian telecoms operator.
On Sunday, New York-based private firm General Atlantic said it would invest $870 million in the Indian telecom operator, a subsidiary of India’s most valued company (Reliance Industries), joining fellow American investors Facebook, Silver Lake, and Vista Equity Partners who also made substantial bets on the three-and-a-half-year-old Indian company.
General Atlantic ‘s investment value Jio Platforms at $65 billion — the same value implied by the deals with Silver Lake and Vista and a premium of 12.5 percent over Facebook’s deal, the Indian firm said.
Sunday’s announcement further illustrates Jio Platforms’ growing appeal, which has raised $8.85 billion over the past month by selling around 14.7 percent of its stake to foreign investors looking for a piece of the world’s second-largest internet market. General Atlantic, a high-profile consumer tech space investor who has invested in scores of companies including Airbnb, Alibaba, Ant Finance, Mail, ByteDance, Facebook, Slack, Snapchat, and Uber, has been a major investor in India for over a decade while ignoring consumer tech space bets in India.
It has cut checks on several Indian startups including NoBroker, a startup based in Bangalore that helps those looking to rent or buy an apartment connect directly with property owners, Unacademy, and Byju’s tech giants, BillDesk payment processor, and India’s National Stock Exchange.
The PE Company, which has invested about $3 billion in India, said last week it was looking to invest another $1.5 billion in Indian firms by next year — this time focusing on the players operating in the consumer tech category.
Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, who has invested more than $30 billion to develop Jio Networks, said the telecom network will “leverage the tested global experience and strategic perspectives of General Atlantic over 40 years of technology innovation.”
Reliance Jio, launched in the second half of 2016, updated India’s telecommunications industry with cutting-edge data plans and free voice calls. Jio Services, a Reliance Industries company, runs the telecommunications initiative called Jio Infocomm, which has accrued 388 million subscribers since its launch to become the nation’s largest telecom operator.
The new money will help Ambani, India’s richest guy, further solidify his last year’s investor pledge when he said he planned to slash Reliance’s net debt by early 2021 from about $21 billion to zero. The main sector — oil refining and petrochemicals — was struck hard with the outbreak of Coronavirus. Its net income fell by 37 percent in the quarter ended March 31.