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Reliance offloads towers and acquires logistics firm

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In the strongest confirmation of its ambitions to date, Reliance Industrial Investments has sold approximately 135,000 Jio-owned towers and, through Reliance Retail Ventures Limited, has acquired logistics and retail capabilities from the Future Group.

The deals, confirmed over the weekend, came in quick succession.

On 29 August, Reliance Retail announced it was to acquire the retail and wholesale division and the logistics and warehousing division of the Future Group.

On this development, the company said: “The acquisition of the retail, wholesale and supply chain business of the Future Group complements and makes a strong strategic fit into Reliance’s retail business. This will help Reliance retail to accelerate providing support to millions of small merchants in increasing their competitiveness and enhance their income during these challenging times.”

Then on 31 August, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners confirmed the US$3.4 billion acquisition of 135,000 communication towers which formed Jio’s telecommunication network. Brookfield’s stake equated to $600 million.

The towers were recently constructed and strategically located for cellular network coverage across India. A statement from the two said more towers are planned, increasing the total number in the transaction perimeter “to approximately 175,000, building a robust telecommunications market within the country”.

Jio is the anchor tenant of the tower portfolio under a 30-year master services agreement, which will provide the tower company with “a secure, long-term source of revenue”. 

The developments followed a series of news reports over recent months that have suggested reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani is planning an Indian rival for Amazon through JioMart, which would draw on the power of WhatssApp-based ordering.

In recent months Ambani has secured billions in investment from multiple, high-profile names as he looked to build his digital empire and support the ongoing development and growth of India’s digital ecosystem.

The investments included $10 billion from Alphabet’s Google, which took a 7.73% stake in Jio Platforms paving the way for the two to collaborate on entry level, affordable smartphones.

 

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