India approves Reliance’s $3.4 billion deal with Future Group, brings a new headache to Amazon

The Indian watchdog said on Friday it has approved the $3.4 billion deal between the nation’s two largest retail giants, Future Group and Reliance Retail, posing a new headache for American e-commerce group Amazon in the key overseas market.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI), the Indian watchdog, said in a brief statement that it had approved the proposed acquisition of retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing businesses of Future Group, India’s second largest retail chain, by Reliance Retail, the largest.

Reliance Retail and Future Group announced their proposed deal, worth $3.4 billion, in late August. Amazon, which owns a stake in a Future Group’s subsidiary, has protested the deal, alleging the Indian firm of engaging in insider trading and violating contracts.

Late last month, a Singapore arbitration court issued an order to temporarily halt the deal between the two Indian retail giants, but it has been unclear ever since how much water that order holds in India. Shortly after the court issued the order, Future Group and Reliance Retail said they were working to complete their deal “without any delay.”

Friday’s announcement is crucial. Amazon, which has invested over $6.5 billion in its India business, had requested the CCI and SEBI, the regulator of the securities and commodity market in India, to consider Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s order and block the deal.

Future Group is currently fighting with Amazon in a court in Delhi, where a lawyer for the Indian firm has used bizarre language to charge the American firm. On several occasions, the lawyer has likened Amazon’s effort to block Future Group’s deal to the East India Company, the British trading house whose arrival in India kicked off nearly 200 years of colonial rule.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More to follow…

#amazon, #amazon-india, #asia, #ecommerce, #future-group, #government, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-retail

0

TikTok-rival Triller inks deal with Reliance’s JioSaavn in India push

Triller, an app that functions similarly to TikTok, has inked a strategic partnership with a platform owned by India’s richest man to cash in on the Chinese app’s ban in its biggest international market.

The Los Angeles-headquartered firm said on Monday it has partnered with Reliance’s JioSaavn music app to embed Triller videos into the streamer “front and center.”

As part of what Triller said was the “first of many announcements to come from these two digital powerhouses,” JioSaavn app will also provide a “prominent” button on its main screen that will enable its users to create a triller video, the American firm said.

The announcement comes as scores of local startups have rushed to fill the void New Delhi’s ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps over cybersecurity concerns created at the end of June this year.

Some of the local firms that are attempting to cash in on TikTok’s absence include on-demand video streaming service Zee5, news aggregator app DailyHunt, and Times Internet’s music streaming service Gaana and video streamer MX Player.

So Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s JioSaavn, one of the largest music streaming services in India, showing user-generated videos doesn’t sound like an absurd idea anymore.

Triller claims JioSaavn has amassed over 300 million users in India. I don’t think so: Its Android app had fewer than 30 million weekly active users earlier this month, according to one of the top mobile insight firms. And a press release from two months ago on JioSaavn’s website says it had over 104 million monthly active users.

But what is more interesting about this partnership is that it exists at all. As of early this month, Reliance Industries, the firm that runs telecom giant Jio Platforms, was in early-discussions with ByteDance to invest in TikTok’s operations in India. (Jio Platforms, which has raised over $20 billion from Facebook and a dozen other investors this year, operates a bouquet of digital services including JioTV, JioCinema, and Haptik.)

At any rate, Rishi Malhotra, co-founder and chief executive of JioSaavn, said the partnership with Triller will enable “artists to create and express our culture in the most innovate ways. We are confident that this partnership will exponentially grow both companies.”

Bobby Sarnevesht, executive chairman of Triller, said he was pleased, too, in a statement.

#apps, #asia, #india, #jio-platforms, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #social, #tiktok, #triller

0

Facebook tests TikTok-style video format on its main app in India

Facebook is going all in on short-form videos. After flirting with the idea in Lasso, a TikTok-clone it tested in select markets, and adding a similar feature to Instagram recently, the company is exploring a new venue for this TikTok-esque experience: The big blue app.

The company confirmed to TechCrunch that it is testing short-form videos in the Facebook app in India, its biggest market by users. In the current avatar, ‘Short Videos’ has a dedicated section within the news feed. On top of it sits the ‘Create’ button, tapping which prompts Facebook Camera to launch, and users can browse through videos by swiping up.

“We’re always testing new creative tools so we can learn about how people want to express themselves. Short form videos are extremely popular and we are looking at new ways to provide this experience for people to connect, create and share on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, first revealed the existence of the new test.

The test comes as Facebook continues to cash in on the absence of TikTok, the ByteDance -owned app that was banned by India in late June, in the country. Facebook launched Reels in India last month weeks before launching it to dozens of additional markets. A source familiar with the matter said the daily engagement of Facebook’s services in India has increased by more than 25% since the ban on TikTok.

Scores of local startups, including Twitter-backed ShareChat and Times Internet’s Gaana and MX Player streaming services, have launched standalone apps or integrated features to replicate the social experience TikTok provided to users in recent weeks. The local apps have claimed to have added tens of million of new users during the period.

YouTube has also rolled out a similar feature, still in testing phase, to more users in India in recent weeks.

Image: TechCrunch

The urgency in Facebook’s attempt to court users with short-form videos comes as TikTok is plotting ways to re-enter the market. ByteDance is engaging with Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries to sell stake in TikTok’s local business, TechCrunch reported earlier this week.

#apps, #asia, #bytedance, #facebook, #facebook-india, #instagram, #instagram-reels, #jio-platforms, #lasso, #reliance, #reliance-jio, #social, #techcrunch, #youtube

0

ByteDance in talks with India’s Reliance for investment in TikTok

Chinese giant ByteDance is engaging with India’s Reliance Industries Limited, the parent firm of telecom giant Jio Platforms, for investment in TikTok’s India operations in a move to potentially save the short form video app’s fate in its biggest market by users, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The two companies began conversations late last month, and have yet to reach a deal, the sources said. TikTok’s India business, where it had amassed over 200 million users before it was banned in late June, is being valued at more than $3 billion, one of the sources said. ByteDance did not respond to a request for comment.

An investment by Reliance would help the oil-to-retails giant make deeper connections with consumers. Even as Jio Platforms has amassed nearly 400 million users in India in the less than four years, its consumer-facing apps have struggled to gain wider appeal.

Since late April this year, Indian giant’s digital venture has raised about $20 billion from 13 high-profile investors including Facebook and Google.

This is a developing story…

#bytedance, #facebook, #india, #reliance, #reliance-jio, #reliance-jio-platforms, #tc, #tiktok

0

India approves Facebook’s $5.7 billion deal with Reliance Jio Platforms

India’s antitrust watchdog has given its blessing to Facebook and Reliance Jio Platforms for their $5.7 billion deal.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Competition Commission of India said it had approved Facebook’s proposed multi-billion-dollar investment in Jio Platforms for a 9.99% stake in the top Indian telecom network.

Jaadhu Holdings LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Facebook, is acquiring the stake in Jio Platforms. Facebook created this subsidiary earlier this year.

The announcement comes a week after the watchdog said it was accessing the deal for potential misuse of users’ data and pondering if it should consider amending the current rules for some mergers and acquisitions in the country.

At the time, Facebook had argued that its investment in the Indian firm is “pro-competitive, benefits consumers, kirana stores (neighborhood stores) and other small and micro local Indian businesses, and take forward the vision of digital India.”

Analysts have said that Facebook’s investment in billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms, its biggest investment in recent years, could help the social media giant expand its reach in India, which is already its biggest market by user count.

Facebook’s eponymous service reaches about 350 million users in India, while its messaging service WhatsApp has amassed over 400 million users. WhatsApp is by far the most popular service in the world’s second largest market.

In April, Facebook said it planned to work with Reliance Jio Platforms to empower 60 million small businesses, including mom-and-pop stores in India. Early signs of this collaboration was apparent a week later when JioMart, a joint venture between Reliance Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail (India’s largest retail chain), started to allow customers to track shipment through WhatsApp.

Some analysts said that the deal with Ambani, India’s richest man and an ally of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, could also help Facebook stay on the good side of the Indian government. In India, where Facebook’s Free Basics program was blocked in early 2016, the firm has been stuck in a regulatory maze to get clearance for a nationwide rollout of WhatsApp Pay.

Facebook launched WhatsApp Pay in beta mode to a million users in the country in 2018, only months after Google launched its payments service in India. While WhatsApp Pay remains stuck at a million users, Google and Walmart’s PhonePe have established clear dominance in India’s mobile payments market.

More to follow…

#asia, #facebook, #india, #reliance, #reliance-jio-platforms, #social, #whatsapp

0

Reliance Jio Platforms says $15.2 billion fundraise is good for now

If your venture fund was not one of the ten investors that backed Reliance Jio Platforms in recent weeks, you won’t be able to plough cash into the fast-growing top Indian telecom network for at least a few quarters now as it is no longer scouting for fresh deals.

Reliance Jio Platforms, which has raised $15.2 billion in the past nine weeks, said today that Saudi Arabia’s PIF $1.5 billion investment on Thursday marked the “end of Jio Platforms’ current phase of induction of financial partners.”

Mukesh Ambani, who controls Reliance Industries (the parent firm of Jio Platforms and a range of other businesses), said that Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, the largest retail chain in the country, “have received strong interest from strategic and financial investors,” but he will now “induct leading global partners in these businesses in the next few quarters.”

India’s richest man added that he plans to publicly list both Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail within the next five years. “With these initiatives, I have no doubt that your company will have one of the strongest balance sheets in the world.”

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of the Reliance Industries Ltd., arrives for the company’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, India, on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The announcement today caps perhaps the buzziest fundraising news cycle that lasted for nearly three months. Reliance Jio Platforms, which has amassed over 388 million subscribers in less than four years, announced in April that it had secured $5.7 billion from Facebook.

In the weeks since, the telecom operator has raised an additional $9.5 billion from a roster of nine high-profile investors including Silver Lake, KKR, and General Atlantic .

The huge capital infusion at the height of a global pandemic accounted for more than half of the investment into telecom companies globally this year, according to Bloomberg. By raising $15.2 billion, Jio Platforms, which Ambani describes as a “startup,” alone mopped up more capital than India’s entire tech startup ecosystem last year.

On Friday, Ambani also confirmed a market speculation about why Reliance Jio Platforms was raising money at all. Ambani said that the capital has helped him repay Reliance Industries’ net debt of $21 billion well ahead of schedule. The oil-to-retail giant, which was debt free in 2012, is now “net debt free,” he said.

Last August, Ambani promised shareholders that Reliance Industries, which is India’s most valued firm, would repay its debt by early 2021.

“Today I am both delighted and humbled to announce that we have fulfilled our promise to the shareholders by making Reliance net debt-free much before our original schedule of 31st March 2021,” he said.

#asia, #facebook, #funding, #general-atlantic, #india, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-jio, #silver-lake

0

India’s antitrust watchdog is reviewing Facebook’s $5.7B deal with Reliance Jio Platforms

Facebook’s $5.7 billion investment in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms that could help the American social media juggernaut make inroads into tens of millions of shops in the country is being reviewed by the local antitrust watchdog.

The Competition Commission of India said on Wednesday that it is reviewing Facebook’s multi-billion dollars investment in Reliance Jio Platforms for a 9.9% stake in the top Indian telecom operator.

Bloomberg first reported about the antitrust review, citing CCI chairman Ashok Kumar Gupta. The Indian watchdog declined to elaborate the aspects of its examination, but told the outlet that it assesses every deal that could misuse users’ data and may consider amending the current rules for some mergers and acquisitions in the country.

A Facebook spokesperson in India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a recent filing, Facebook said the proposed transaction and commercial agreement with Reliance Jio Platforms, which has amassed over 388 million subscribers, are “pro-competitive, benefits consumers, kirana stores (neighborhood stores) and other small and micro local Indian businesses, and take forward the vision of digital India.”

Analysts have said that Facebook’s proposed investment in Reliance Jio Platforms, its biggest investment in recent years, could help the social media giant expand its reach in India, which is already its biggest market by users count.

Facebook’s eponymous service reaches about 350 million users in India, while its messaging service WhatsApp has amassed over 400 million users. WhatsApp is by far the most popular service in the world’s second largest market.

More to follow…

#apps, #asia, #cci, #competition-commission-of-india, #facebook, #india, #reliance, #reliance-jio

0

India’s Reliance Jio Platforms to sell $250 million stake to L Catterton

Speaking of Reliance Jio Platforms, the top Indian telecom operator said on Saturday it has secured another investment.

L Catterton, a U.S. private equity firm will invest $250 million for a 0.39% stake in Jio Platforms, becoming the ninth investor to back the Indian firm at the height of a global pandemic.

L Catterton, a firm known to invest in consumer tech businesses, has backed dozens of young and established firms over the years including Peloton, <span style=”font-size: 1.125rem; letter-spacing: -0.1px;”>Vroom, ClassPass, Owndays and PVR Cinemas.

The announcement, which makes L Catterton the ninth investor to back Jio in eight weeks, comes hours after the three-and-half-year-old telecom network said it was selling stake worth $600 million to TPG. The new investment, like that of TPG, values Jio Platforms at $65 billion.

Reliance Jio Platforms has now secured more than $13.7 billion by selling about 22.3 stake to Facebook, Silver Lake, KKR, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, TPG, and L Catterton in the past eight weeks.

“We look forward to partnering with Jio, which is uniquely positioned to execute on its vision and mission to transform the country and build a digital society for 1.3 billion Indians through its unmatched digital and technological capabilities,” said Michael Chu, co-chief executive of L Catterton, in a statement.

Investors’ bullishness on Jio Platforms, which has amassed over 388 million subscribers, shows their growing interest in India’s telecom market. Media reports have claimed in recent weeks that Amazon is considering buying stakes worth at least $2 billion in Bharti Airtel, India’s third largest telecom operator, while Google has held talks for a similar deal in Vodafone Idea, the second largest telecom operator.

Jio Platforms also operates a bevy of digital apps and services including music streaming service JioSaavn (which it says it will take public), on-demand live television service JioTV and payments app JioMoney, as well as smartphones, and broadband business. These services are available to Jio subscribers at no additional charge.

Pankaj Jain, a high-profile angel investor, told TechCrunch that Jio Platforms’ digital services suite appeared to have helped it attract foreign investors. “Foreign investors see that owning the pipes is a race to the bottom in terms of ARPU (average revenue per user) but having so many bundled services seems like it’s the future for telecommunications companies. By solidifying their content strategy, they have appealed to investors that are seeing this same strategy play out in other markets,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it’s still to be seen whether content can help increase margins significantly in India.”

Though Reliance Jio Platforms has not revealed why it is raising so much money, this capital could be deployed to cut oil-to-retails giant Reliance Industries’ net debt of about $21 billion, said Mahesh Uppal, director of communications consultancy firm Com First, in a conversation with TechCrunch.

Ambani pledged to clear Reliance’s due by early 2021. Reliance Industries had no debt in 2012, but that changed when the company decided to enter the telecommunications market.
“I particularly look forward to gaining from L Catterton’s invaluable experience in creating consumer-centric businesses because technology and consumer experience need to work together to propel India to achieving digital leadership,” said Ambani in a statement today.

#asia, #classpass, #funding, #l-catterton, #peloton, #reliance, #reliance-jio, #tpg, #vroom

0

India’s Reliance Jio Platforms to sell $750 million stake to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority

Mukesh Ambani has courted the seventh major investor for his telecommunications business in just as many weeks.

On Sunday, Reliance Jio Platforms said it will sell a stake of 1.16% for $750 million to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), continuing its eye-catching run of investments at the height of a global pandemic.

The three-and-a-half-year-old digital unit of oil-to-retail giant Reliance Industries, the most valuable firm in India, has now secured nearly $13 billion from seven investors including Facebook, and U.S. private equity firms Silver Lake, General Atlantic by selling close to 20% stake.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s announcement is the third deal Reliance Jio Platforms, which is India’s largest telecom operator with over 388 million subscribers, has secured just this week. Jio Platforms is selling $1.2 billion stake to Abu Dhabi-based sovereign firm Mubadala, it said earlier this week. The company also announced that U.S private equity firm Silver Lake was pumping an additional $600 million to increase its stake in Jio to 2.1%.

The deal further captures the appeal of Jio Platforms to foreign investors looking for a slice of the world’s second-largest internet market. Jio, which launched its commercial operations in the second half of 2016, upended the market by offering mobile data and voice calls at cut-rate prices.

“The incumbent players (Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, BSNL) in India did the opposite of what companies in their position do elsewhere in the world when a new player emerges in the market. The existing players expect the newcomer to compete aggressively on price. They often lower their prices – some times steeply — to reduce the latter’s attractiveness. Newcomers often complain to the regulators about anti-competitive practices of incumbents,” said Mahesh Uppal, director of communications consultancy firm Com First.

“In India, the opposite happened. It was the existing players who ran to regulators with complaints. So we saw a major miscalculation from incumbent players that had already missed out on taking any major step before the launch of Jio,” he said.

India has emerged as one of the biggest global battlegrounds for Silicon Valley and Chinese firms that are looking to win the nation’s 1.3 billion people, most of whom remain without a smartphone and internet connection.

Media reports have claimed in recent weeks that Amazon is considering buying stakes worth at least $2 billion in Bharti Airtel, India’s third largest telecom operator, while Google has held talks for a similar deal in Vodafone Idea, the second largest telecom operator.

Hamad Shahwan Aldhaheri, who oversees private equity deals at ADIA, said Jio Platforms is poised to benefit from major socio-economic developments and “transformative effects of technology on the way people live and work. The rapid growth of the business, which has established itself as a market leader in just four years, has been built on a strong track record of strategic execution. Our investment in Jio is a further demonstration of ADIA’s ability to draw on deep regional and sector expertise to invest globally in market leading companies and alongside proven partners.”

The new capital should help Ambani, India’s richest man, further solidify his commitment to investors when he pledged to cut Reliance’s net debt of about $21 billion to zero by early 2021 — in part because of the investments it has made to build Jio Platforms, said Uppal.

Its core business — oil refining and petrochemicals — has been hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Its net profit in the quarter that ended on March 31 fell by 37%.

“I am delighted that ADIA, with its track record of more than four decades of successful long-term value investing across the world, is partnering with Jio Platforms in its mission to take India to digital leadership and generate inclusive growth opportunities. This investment is a strong endorsement of our strategy and India’s potential,” said Ambani.

#abu-dhabi, #asia, #facebook, #funding, #general-atlantic, #mubadala, #mubadala-investment-company, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #reliance-jio, #silver-lake, #telecommunications, #united-states

0

Reliance Jio Platforms to sell additional $600 million stake to Silver Lake

Silver Lake is doubling down its bet on India’s Reliance Jio Platforms. The U.S. private equity firm said Friday it is buying an additional stake worth $600 million in the top Indian telecom operator, which has now raised $12.2 billion in less than two months — at the height of a global pandemic.

The Menlo Park-headquartered firm, which invested nearly $750 million in Reliance Jio Platforms last month, said the additional infusion increases its stake in the Indian firm to 2.08%, up from 1.15%.

Silver Lake’s new investment is now technically the seventh deal Reliance Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of India’s most valued firm (Reliance Industries), has secured in just as many weeks by selling nearly 20% stake. Earlier on Friday (local time), Abu Dhabi-based sovereign firm Mubadala said it would invest $1.2 billion in Jio, a firm run by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man.

Mr. Egon Durban, co-chief executive and managing partner at Silver Lake, said, the recent investment momentum in Reliance Jio Platforms “validates a compelling business model and underscores our admiration for Mukesh Ambani, his team and their courageous vision in creating and building one of the world’s most remarkable technology companies.”

“We are excited to increase our exposure and bring more of our co-investors into this opportunity, further supporting Jio Platforms in its mission to bring the power of high-quality and affordable digital services to a mass consumer and small businesses population,” he added.

Silver Lake manages nearly $40 billion in combined assets and committed capital and has invested in dozens of tech firms over the years including in video game engine maker Unity, audio and video communication service Skype, consultancy firm Gartner, Alibaba’s Ant Financial, computer giant Dell, and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.

More to follow…

#abu-dhabi, #alibaba, #ant-financial, #asia, #companies, #dell, #didi-chuxing, #digital-services, #funding, #india, #menlo-park, #mubadala, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #reliance-jio, #silver-lake, #united-states, #unity

0

Mubadala to invest $1.2 billion in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms

Abu Dhabi-based sovereign firm Mubadala has become the latest investor in Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms, joining five American firms including Facebook and Silver Lake that have secured stakes in India’s biggest telecom operator at the height of a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

Mubadala said it had agreed to invest $1.2 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms for a 1.85% stake in the firm. The deal valued the Indian telecom operator, which launched in the second half of 2016, at $65 billion.

A subsidiary of Reliance Industries, the most valued firm in India whose core businesses are in oil refining and petrochemicals, Reliance Jio Platforms has raised $11.5 billion in the last seven weeks.

“Through my longstanding ties with Abu Dhabi, I have personally seen the impact of Mubadala’s work in diversifying and globally connecting the UAE’s knowledge-based economy. We look forward to benefitting from Mubadala’s experience and insights from supporting growth journeys across the world,” Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, said in a statement.

The announcement today further shows the appeal of Jio Platforms to foreign investors that are looking for a slice of the world’s second-largest internet market. Media reports have claimed in recent weeks that Amazon is considering buying stakes worth at least $2 billion in Bharti Airtel, India’s third-largest telecom operator, while Google has held talks for a similar deal in Vodafone Idea, the second largest telecom operator.

India has emerged as one of the biggest global battlegrounds for Silicon Valley and Chinese firms that are looking to win the nation’s 1.3 billion people, most of whom remain without a smartphone and internet connection.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, managing director and group chief executive of Mubadala Investment Company, said, “We have seen how Jio has already transformed communications and connectivity in India, and as an investor and partner, we are committed to supporting India’s digital growth journey. With Jio’s network of investors and partners, we believe that the platform company will further the development of the digital economy.”

The new capital should help Ambani, India’s richest man, further solidify his commitment to investors when he pledged to cut Reliance’s net debt of about $21 billion to zero by early 2021 — in part because of the investments it has made to build Jio Platforms, said Mahesh Uppal, director of Com First, a communications consultancy.

Its core business — oil refining and petrochemicals — has been hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Its net profit in the quarter that ended on March 31 fell by 37%.

#abu-dhabi, #asia, #facebook, #funding, #india, #mubadala, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #reliance-jio

0

JioMart, the e-commerce venture from India’s richest man, launches in additional cities

The rationale behind the deluge of dollars flooding into billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms is beginning to become more clear as his e-commerce venture JioMart starts rolling out to more people across India.

An e-commerce venture between the nation’s top telecom operator Jio Platforms and top retail chain Jio Retail, JioMart just launched its new website and started accepting orders in dozens of metro, tier 1 and tier 2 cities including Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Bokaro, Bathinda, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, and Dehradun.

Before the expansion on Saturday, the service was available in three suburbs of Mumbai. The service now includes perishables such as fruits and vegetables, and dairy items in addition to staples and other grocery products as it makes its pitch to Indian households across the country.

Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $10 billion in the last month by selling a roughly 17% stake, has amassed over 388 million subscribers, more than any other telecom operator in the country.

The money comes as Ambani’s various companies begin entering a market already teeming with fierce competitors like Amazon, Walmart’s Flipkart, BigBasket, MilkBasket, and Grofers.

Earlier this week the American e-commerce giant entered India’s food delivery market to challenge the duopoly of Prosus Ventures-backed Swiggy and Ant Financial-backed Zomato. Amazon is making a massive hiring push in India, and is looking to hire close to 50,000 seasonal workers to keep up with the growing demand on its platform.

Meanwhile, Ambani’s Reliance Retail, founded in 2006, remains the largest retailer in India by revenue. It serves more than 3.5 million customers each week through its nearly 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns.

JioMart may have Amazon and Flipkart in its sights, but in its current form, however, the company is going to be more of a headache for Grofers and BigBasket, the top grocery delivery startups in India.

Reliance Industries, the most valued firm in India and parent entity of Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, plans to expand JioMart to more than a thousand districts in a year and also widen its catalog to include electronics and office supplies among a variety of other categories, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. A Reliance Jio spokesperson declined to comment.

The expansion to more cities comes a month after JioMart launched its WhatsApp business account, enabling people to easily track their order and invoice on Facebook -owned service.

Facebook announced it would invest $5.7 billion in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms last month and pledged to work with the Indian firm to help small businesses across the country. JioMart’s WhatsApp account currently does not support the expanded regions.

Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, first unveiled his plan to launch an e-commerce platform last year. In a speech then, Ambani invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s work and said India needed to fight another fresh battle.

A handful of firms have attempted — and failed — to launch their e-commerce websites over the years in India, where more than 95% of sales still occur through brick and mortar stores. But Ambani is uniquely positioned to fight the duopoly of Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart — thanks in part to the more than $10 billion in investment dollars the company recently raised from KKR, FacebookSilver LakeVista Equity Partners, and General Atlantic. In addition to scaling JioMart, the fresh capital should also help Ambani repay some of Reliance Industries’ $21 billion debt.

“We have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonization. For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India — in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian,” Ambani said at an event attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi .

#amazon, #ant-financial, #asia, #bigbasket, #ecommerce, #facebook, #flipkart, #grofers, #mukesh-ambani, #narendra-modi, #prosus-ventures, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #reliance-jio, #walmart, #whatsapp, #zomato

0

KKR to invest $1.5 billion in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms has agreed to sell 2.32% stake to U.S. equity firm KKR in what is the fifth major investment in the top Indian telecom firm in just as many weeks.

On Friday, KKR announced it will invest $1.5 billion in the Indian top telecom operator, a subsidiary of India’s most valued firm (Reliance Industries), joining fellow American investors Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, and General Atlantic that have made similar bets on the Indian firm that has amassed over 388 million subscribers.

The investment from KKR, which has wrote checks to about 20 tech companies to date including ByteDance and GoJek, values the nearly four-year-old Reliance Jio Platforms at $65 billion. The announcement today further shows the growing appeal of Jio Platforms, which has raised $10.35 billion in the past month by selling about 17% of its stake to foreign investors that are looking for a slice of the world’s second-largest internet market.

Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries and who has poured more than $30 billion to build Jio Platforms, said the company was looking forward to leverage “KKR’s global platform, industry knowledge and operational expertise to further grow Jio.”

“Few companies have the potential to transform a country’s digital ecosystem in the way that Jio Platforms is doing in India, and potentially worldwide. Jio Platforms is a true homegrown next generation technology leader in India that is unmatched in its ability to deliver technology solutions and services to a country that is experiencing a digital revolution,” Henry Kravis, co-founder and co-chief executive of KKR, said in a statement.

“We are investing behind Jio Platforms’ impressive momentum, world-class innovation and strong leadership team, and we view this landmark investment as a strong indicator of KKR’s commitment to supporting leading technology companies in India and Asia Pacific,” he added.

More to follow…

#apps, #asia, #companies, #facebook, #funding, #general-atlantic, #india, #kkr, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #reliance-jio, #silver-lake, #united-states, #vista-equity-partners

0

Silver Lake to invest $747M in India’s Jio Platforms

Weeks after Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms, India’s top telecom operator, private equity firm Silver Lake is following suit.

Silver Lake announced on Monday it will be investing 56.56 billion Indian rupees (about $746.8 million) in Jio Platforms for about 1.15% stake in the Indian telecom network, giving it a valuation of $65 billion, a 12.5% premium to the value implied by the Facebook investment.

The Menlo Park-headquartered PE firm, which has approximately $40 billion in combined assets and committed capital, has invested in dozens of tech firms over the years including video game engine maker Unity, Skype, consultancy firm Gartner, Alibaba’s Ant Financial, and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, several of it in recent weeks.

This year, Silver Lake has invested in Expedia, Twitter (in which it invested $1 billion), Airbnb, Waymo, and ServiceMax. This is the second investment Silver Lake is making in an Indian firm. In 2013, it invested in Bangalore-based commodity trading and risk management software firm Eka.

Reliance Jio Platforms, which began its commercial operation in the second half of 2016, upended the local telecom market by offering bulk of 4G data and voice calls for six months to users at no charge. A subsidiary of Reliance Industries (India’s most valuable firm by market value), Jio Platforms has amassed 388 million subscribers since its launch to become the nation’s top telecom operator.

“Jio Platforms is one of the world’s most remarkable companies, led by an incredibly strong and entrepreneurial management team who are driving and actualizing a courageous vision. They have brought extraordinary engineering capabilities to bear on bringing the power of low-cost digital services to a mass consumer and small businesses population. The market potential they are addressing is enormous, and we are honored and pleased to have been invited to partner with Mukesh Ambani and the team at Reliance and Jio to help further the Jio mission,” said Egon Durban, co-chief executive and managing partner at Silver Lake, in a statement.

Jio Platforms, previously known as just Jio, also owns a suite of services including music streaming service JioSaavn (which has plans to become a public company), smartphones, broadband business, on-demand live television service JioTV, and payments service JioPay.
In a statement, Mukesh Ambani, who oversees Reliance Industries, said, “Silver Lake has an outstanding record of being a valuable partner for leading technology companies globally. Silver Lake is one of the most respected voices in technology and finance. We are excited to leverage insights from their global technology relationships for the Indian Digital Society’s transformation.”

In the company’s earnings call last week, Ambani said several firms had expressed interest in buying a stake in Jio Platforms, in which he has invested over $30 billion, in wake of the deal with Facebook.

Facebook said that other than offering the capital to Jio Platforms for a 9.99% stake in the firm, it would work with the Indian giant on a number of areas starting with e-commerce.

Days later, JioMart, an e-commerce venture run by India’s most valued firm, began testing an “ordering system” on WhatsApp, the most popular smartphone app in India with over 400 million active users in the world’s second largest internet market.

More to follow…

#asia, #facebook, #finance, #funding, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #silver-lake

0

Reliance and Facebook pilot JioMart orders on WhatsApp

JioMart, an e-commerce venture run by India’s most valued firm, is testing an “ordering system” on WhatsApp, giving us the first peek at the collaboration between Facebook and Indian telecom giant Reliance Jio Platforms.

Users in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan, three cities in Indian state Maharashtra, can use JioMart’s WhatsApp business account for grocery shopping.

They can initiate an order by texting “Hi” to +91-8850008000, which prompts a link that opens a mini store on the browser, allowing them to pick a range of grocery products including toothpaste, snacks, tea and coffee, rice, and cooking oil.

Once an order has been placed, which currently does not include a way to pay digitally, JioMart automatically assigns a neighborhood store to them.

A source familiar with WhatsApp and JioMart’s collaboration confirmed the move, but said the ordering system is currently at the pilot stage. More than 1,200 neighborhood stores are engaging in the pilot program.

JioMart, a joint venture between Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain, and Reliance Jio Platform, the biggest telecom network in India with over 385 million subscribers, is ensuring “hygiene and safety of staff,” “fair prices”, round-the-clock operational warehouses, and “daily supplies to the store.”

The testing gives us an early peek at how Reliance Jio Platforms wants to leverage WhatsApp’s unparalleled reach in India, where the Facebook -owned service has amassed over 400 million users.

Last week, Facebook announced it was investing $5.7 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms to secure a 9.9% stake of the Indian firm, which like Reliance Retail, is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, the most valued firm in India.

Ajit Mohan, a Facebook VP who oversees the company’s business in India, told TechCrunch in an interview that the two companies will explore ways to collaborate.

One of those collaborations may allow users to find local stores around them on WhatsApp, talk to store operators and place orders from within the Facebook-owned instant messaging service, he said last week.

“You can browse shops and talk to the shop owner. And ultimately, where we do want to take this flow is for you to be able to place your orders,” he said, adding that there is a chance that users might not be required to pay on WhatsApp, which started to test its payments service in India two years ago.

WhatsApp has yet to receive approval from New Delhi for a nationwide rollout of Pay in India. Local media reports claimed earlier this year that WhatsApp had started to expand Pay’s reach in the country in various phases. Facebook’s Mohan said last week that only 1 million WhatsApp users in India, same as before, have access to its mobile payment service.

#apps, #asia, #ecommerce, #facebook, #reliance, #reliance-jio, #whatsapp

0

Facebook’s $5.7 billion bet on Indian giant Jio spells trouble for Amazon and Flipkart

Facebook’s major bet on Jio Platforms could create a headache for mobile payments services that have amassed tens of millions of users while struggling to find a business model in the world’s second-largest internet market.

The $5.7 billion investment, Facebook’s second-largest to date, could also further its dominance in India — its biggest market by user count — by expanding the reach of consumer-facing services like WhatsApp and expanding its lead over ByteDance’s TikTok, which has amassed more than 250 million Indian users in two years.

But based on what Facebook and Reliance Jio executives have shared — along with feedback from several industry analysts — the companies that need to worry most about this multi-billion-dollar bet are Walmart’s Flipkart, Paytm and Amazon.

Facebook and Jio executives said their companies will work together to build solutions; their biggest synergy would revolve around JioMart and WhatsApp, given that Reliance Jio is India’s top telecom network with more than 380 million subscribers.

One of those collaborations may allow users to find local stores around them on WhatsApp, talk to store operators and place orders from within the Facebook-owned instant messaging service, said Ajit Mohan, a Facebook VP who spearheads the company’s business in India, in an interview with TechCrunch.

“You can browse shops and talk to the shop owner. And ultimately, where we do want to take this flow is for you to be able to place your orders,” he said. Mohan refuted reports that Facebook saw the deal as an opportunity to turn WhatsApp into a so-called “super app,” however.

#amazon, #apps, #asia, #club-factory, #convergence-catalyst, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #flipkart, #funding, #google, #india, #jeff-bezos, #market-analysis, #narendra-modi, #payments, #paytm, #paytm-mall, #reliance, #reliance-jio, #social, #walmart, #whatsapp

0