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Thu 18 Jun 2020 03:38 PM

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Saudi Arabia's PIF to invest $1.5bn in Jio Platforms

Public Investment Fund will hold a 2.32 percent stake in the arm of Reliance Industries Ltd

Saudi Arabia's PIF to invest $1.5bn in Jio Platforms

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund will invest $1.5 billion in the telecommunications and digital services business controlled by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, bringing total new investment in Jio Platforms Ltd. to $15.2bn since April.

The Public Investment Fund will hold a 2.32 percent stake in the arm of Reliance Industries Ltd., the Mumbai-based company said in a statement Thursday.

“We at Reliance have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for many decades,” Ambani said in Thursday’s statement. “From oil economy, this relationship is now moving to strengthen India’s new oil (data-driven) economy.”

The deal, the 11th into Jio in about two months, adds to the list of high-profile backers betting the company will disrupt India’s massive consumer market with its technology. Reliance Industries has vowed to pay down net debt to zero before March 2021, while using its roughly 400 million wireless phone subscribers as the cornerstone of an e-commerce and digital business.

Ambani’s $65bn digital unit has sold about 25 percent in stakes to buyers including Facebook Inc. and U.S. private equity firms including KKR & Co., Silver Lake Partners and General Atlantic.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of PIF, added: “We believe that the potential of the Indian digital economy is very exciting and that Jio Platforms provides us with an excellent opportunity to gain access to that growth.  This investment will also enable us to generate significant long-term commercial returns for the benefit of Saudi Arabia’s economy and our country’s citizens, in line with our mandate to safeguard and grow the national wealth of the Kingdom.”

The transaction is subject to Indian regulatory and other customary approvals.

In recent months, despite the onset of coronavirus, of which Saudi Arabia has the greatest number of cases and deaths in the GCC, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund has snapped up around $8 billion worth of stakes in global giants - from Boeing to Facebook.

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