Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund invested $1 billion (82.78 billion rupees) into India’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer as Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani looks to rapidly expand its operations and take on global competitors including Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.
The Qatar Investment Authority’s purchase translates into a stake of 0.99 percent in Ambani’s Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd. “on a fully-diluted basis,” the Mumbai-based firm said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that it values the company at $100 billion.
The deal comes as Ambani’s conglomerate is also considering a public listing for Reliance Retail and has started buying back shares in the unit and giving them to their employees as stock options. The subsidiary headed by Ambani’s daughter, Isha, has undertaken a swath of acquisitions as it challenges global rivals who are trying hard to establish a toe hold in India’s highly competitive retail sector dominated by mom-and-pop stores.
Isha Ambani called the QIA’s investment “a strong endorsement of India’s economy and Reliance’s retail business.”
It’s also the latest foray by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund into a family-led Indian conglomerate this year. QIA increased its bets in the South Asian nation having picked up a 2.7 percent stake in fellow Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s green energy business after the tycoon was hit by a damaging short-seller attack in January.
Reliance Retail raised over $6 billion three years ago from a se-ries of major investors, including the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates, along with General Atlantic, KKR & Co. and Silver Lake Partners.
It reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization that jumped 34 percent to 51.5 billion rupees in the quarter through June compared to the same period a year earlier.
However, Reliance Retail only accounts for just over a tenth of the oil-to-consumer conglomerate’s earnings and is currently eating up a more than a third of the group’s capital expenditure, ICICI Securities analysts wrote in a report published earlier on Wednesday. Reliance’s retail revenue growth has “not kept pace” with that “particularly striking spending,” they added.
Still, the QIA “is committed to supporting innovative companies with high-growth potential in India’s fast growing retail market,” said Chief Executive Officer Mansoor Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud. “We are looking forward to Reliance Retail Ventures Limited, with its strong vision and impressive growth trajectory, joining our growing and diverse portfolio of investments in India.”