General Atlantic, Silver Lake co-investors buy stakes in Reliance's retail arm

September 29, 2020 11:07 PM

By Nupur Anand and Philip George

MUMBAI/BENGALURU (Reuters) - India's Reliance Industries Ltd (OTC: RELI) said on Wednesday private equity firm General Atlantic will invest 36.75 billion rupees ($498.31 million) for a 0.84% stake in its retail arm, while Silver Lake co-investors will also buy a stake.

The deals underscore growing investor interest in Reliance Retail, which is led by Asia's richest man Mukesh Ambani. Reliance is seeking investors for its retail arm after raising more than $20 billion in recent months for its digital unit.

General Atlantic CEO Bill Ford said he was "thrilled to be backing" Ambani's mission to drive substantial change in the country's retail sector. Reliance Retail is seen as a formidable rival to Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Walmart Inc's (NYSE: WMT) Flipkart in India.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, Reliance said Silver Lake co-investors will invest an additional 18.75 billion rupees ($254.89 million) in its retail unit.

Earlier in September, Silver Lake had announced a 75 billion rupees ($1.02 billion) investment in Reliance Retail, and the total investment by the U.S. private equity firm and its co-investors now stood at 93.75 billion rupees ($1.27 billion).

Wednesday's investments give Reliance Retail a pre-money valuation of 4.29 trillion rupees ($58.17 billion). Reliance, which in May launched an online grocery service, also operates around 12,000 brick and mortar stores.

With the latest investments, Reliance has now sold about a 4.3% stake and raised 186 billion rupees ($2.53 billion) in its retail unit.

Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment Co is also in advanced talks to invest up to $1 billion in Reliance Retail, Reuters reported this week. Other investors like SoftBank <9984.T> have also expressed interest in the Reliance unit.

In India, competition for market share has prompted e-commerce players to look for new partnerships. Financial daily Mint reported on Tuesday U.S. retailer Walmart was in talks to invest up to $25 billion in Tata Group's planned "super-app," which will tie in all of the conglomerate's consumer businesses.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi, Nupur Anand in Mumbai and Philip George in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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