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Last Updated : Jun 05, 2020 09:22 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Jio's sixth deal in six weeks underscores Digital India opportunity

Deal emphasizes Jio’s recession-proof, COVID-resistant nature even as it presents a unique set of technologies and platforms under one entity

Moneycontrol Opinion

The Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund’s investment in Jio Platforms is yet another reiteration of the latter’s recession-proof, COVID-resistant nature even as it presents a unique set of technologies and platforms under one entity. While the globe is reeling under the impact of the pandemic and is staring at a long drawn out recession, Jio has been garnering investments with metronomic regularity.

Mubadala Investment Company becomes the sixth investor in six weeks to buy into the Jio story and its vision of a digital India. This is Mubadala’s first investment in India and it is also the first equity investment in Jio by a sovereign wealth fund.

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With Abu Dhabi fund’s  investment of Rs 9,093.6 crore for a 1.85 percent stake at an equity valuation of  Rs 4.91 lakh crore, Jio Platforms has raised Rs 87,655.35 crore from Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR and Mubadala. That’s about $11.6 billion dollars, or almost a quarter of the total foreign direct investment in India in 2019-20.

What’s more, this comes just after Reliance Industries Ltd, which owns Jio Platforms, successfully closed its rights issue of Rs 53,125 crore earlier this week. These investments not only put RIL on the track to meet its target of becoming a net debt free company by March 2021, but also provide capital for Jio Platforms to scale to the next level.

In just over three years, Jio has left behind its origins as a telecom company to become a technology company at the forefront of building a digital society. The opportunity is enormous as India is home to 1.3 billion people who are increasingly embracing digital means for all aspects of their lives ranging from communication to entertainment to commerce and payments. With COVID-19 threatening to change the way we live for quite some time, sectors such as healthcare and digital will increasingly go digital, and rapidly.

All this means is that the way business is done in India will transform. And technology will play a big part in disrupting and transforming businesses, including those who cater to the customers at the bottom of the pyramid. Jio Platforms is among the best placed to take advantage and is already moving in this direction. For instance, in its unique e-commerce model, it will partner the millions of mom and pop stores around the country.

As RIL becomes increasingly consumer facing, it has the experience of reaching the nooks and corners of India. Add to this cutting-edge technologies and tools such as AI (artificial intelligence), Blockchain and AR/VR (augmented reality/ virtual reality) and big data comes into play for all Indians.

At the end of day, this opportunity is one that can’t be ignored. That’s why marquee investors are looking through the short-term disruptions to economic activity and instead homed in to the unique set of technologies and platforms under one entity. It’s hard to think of a similar opportunity for such a massive market available anywhere else globally.

Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd., which also owns Jio, is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.
First Published on Jun 5, 2020 09:06 am
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