Thursday 18 June 2020 5:35 pm

Saudi sovereign wealth fund pours $1.5bn into India's Jio Platforms

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, has announced it will invest $1.5bn (£1.2bn) into Jio Platforms to become the Indian telecoms firm’s eleventh investor.

The Saudi fund will buy a 2.32 per cent stake in Reliance Industries Ltd subsidiary Jio Platforms, the company said in a statement today.

PIF becomes the eleventh investor in Jio, which is India’s largest telecom operator with more than 388m subscribers.

Facebook’s $5.7bn investment for a 9.99 per cent stake in the firm in April sparked investor interest, and the company now includes Silver Lake Partners, Vista Equity Partners and General Atlantic as shareholders. 

Mukesh Ambani, owner of Jio and Asia’s richest man, has now raised $15bn in the mobile giant and sold off almost a quarter of the business. He said he plans to list Jio within five years.

The raft of investments in Ambani’s Indian telecoms firm is set to boost his programme of diversifying wealth away from oil and petrochemicals towards telecommunications and e-commerce.

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

Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chair of the sovereign wealth fund, has his eyes set on similar targets. In recent months, bin Salman has overseen PIF’s investments in a diverse set of companies such as ride-hailing app Uber and cruise operator Carnival. 

His stake in Jio is part of PIF’s long-term strategy of investing in sectors and businesses that generate long-term commercial returns, as the Saudi kingdom seeks to diversify its economy in line with its Vision 2030 goals.

In a statement, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of PIF, said: “We are delighted to be investing in an innovative business which is at the forefront of the transformation of the technology sector in India.

“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.”

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