BENGALURU: Smelling opportunity in crisis is, perhaps, an important virtue of the greats and Mukesh Ambani’s fast growing Jio Platforms is beginning to stand testimony to the same. After attracting investments worth $10 billion (Rs 78,562 crore) in just over a month, there may be more foreign investors making a beeline to tap into India’s huge digital market through Jio. Top sources, research analysts tracking the Reliance Jio deals, say that that world’s largest tech company—Microsoft—and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund may be the next investors in Ambani’s digital initiatives, eyeing a 4-5 per cent stake in total for investments worth another $5 billion.
Over the past month, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has been making announcements on an almost weekly basis on global private equity giants like KKR, Silver Lake, General Atlantic and Vista Equity partners investing in Jio Platforms—at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore and at an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore. In April, tech giant Facebook had kicked off the game by announcing that it will invest $5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake in Jio. “Microsoft most likely will be the next investor in Jio Platforms, eyeing a 2 per cent stake. If you track the tech giant’s past investments closely, the investments in companies like Ola, Facebook were for 2-4 per cent stake and these companies have been extensively using Microsoft’s tech products.
Microsoft has a strategy to lead with technology partnership, test the partnership strength, align forces, get its tech deep rooted and then invest,” Sanchit Vir Gogia, Founder & CEO of Greyhound Research said in his research note. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had said during his India visit recently that Reliance Jio is planning to set up data centres which will use Microsoft’s cloud azure services.
Gogia also pointed out that the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund may as well root for a 1-2 per cent stake in Jio. Ambani-led RIL is looking to pare its net debt to zero by March 2021, through the string of new investments in Jio and a Rs 53,215 crore rights issue announced earlier. Ratings agency Moody’s said that RIL’s move to divest nearly 18.1 per cent stake in Jio Platforms would enable the company to pare its net debt to the tune of 49 per cent.