File picture of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman with Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund PIF is all set to pick up a stake in India’s digital platform Jio, part of the Reliance Industries empire owned by Mukesh Ambani. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) will acquire 2.33 per cent for an estimated $1.5 billion.

With PIF coming on board, Jio Platforms would have diluted 25 per cent of its equity. That’s the maximum they intend to dilute to financial investors, which includes Mark Zukerberg’s Facebook. Any new investors coming on board in future will have to be “strategic investors, a tech giant, for instance,” said a source who was part of the deal-making process.

In recent days, Jio Platforms - which will merge telecom, content streaming, gaming and ecommerce features into its app - has seen Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and ADIA pick up significant stakes amounting to $1.2 billion and $750 million, respectively.

Reliance Industries’ owner, Ambani, Asia’s richest man, had been on an investor acquisition spree, with the likes of Facebook and private equity majors such as KKR and Silver Lake Capital signing on the dotted lines.

Something special

The contours of the deal with Saudi Arabia’s PIF was finalized during Ramadan. “It was always Mukesh Ambani’s wish to have a special relationship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” said Anshuman Mishra, a London-based confidante and family friend of Ambani family of longstanding. He has also worked extensively with Gulf sovereign wealth funds over the years.

“Saudi Arabia’s coming in to close the financial investor round in Jio is indicative of the special nature of the relationship. This is also indicative of the multi-billion dollar partnership announced last year with Saudi Aramco.

“This is a major success for the present Indian government’s foreign policy initiative in the gulf and symbolic of India’s significance in the GCC.”

Anshuman Mishra
File picture of Anshuman Mishra, Chairman of London-based MPH Holdings with Yasir Al Rumayyan of PIF.