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Reliance Retail investments on a roll as Amazon checks the brakes

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Reliance Industries has generated eight investments in its retail subsidiary Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (RRVL), however a legal notice from Amazon could be about to put the brakes on the momentum.

The stakes, which to date total a little over 10% of the business, were taken by the same backers that have supported Jio Platforms in recent months, including KRR, Silver Lake, ADIA and Mubadala (see table).

These investments were followed by the August announcement from Reliance Industries that it had acquired two divisions of the Future Group: retail and wholesale, and logistics and warehousing. It was the strongest indication yet that the group was planning to expand its ecommerce operations in a way that would rival incumbent ecommerce names, such as Amazon.  

According to Reliance Industries, RRVL is bringing about a “transformational digitalisation of small and unorganised merchants” and will expand its network to more than 20 million such traders and enabling them to “use technology tools and an efficient supply chain infrastructure to deliver a superior value proposition to their own customers”.

In press statements, the company has said its “vision is to galvanise the Indian retail sector through an inclusive strategy serving millions of customers by empowering millions of farmers and micro, small and medium enterprises and working closely with global and domestic companies as a preferred partner, to deliver immense benefits to Indian society, while protecting and generating employment for millions of Indians.”

However, according to local reports overnight Amazon has served a legal notice to the Future Group on non-compete grounds.

A little over a year ago Amazon took a 49% stake in Future Coupons, a group entity owned by Future Group’s retail business. The terms of the deal gave Amazon a 3.58% stake in Future Retail and the opportunity to increase its share on a first refusal basis in future.

Future Group claims it offered Amazon the opportunity to take over its business this year, but when Amazon declined Reliance was contacted.

On 10 September Bloomberg reported that Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani had offered Amazon a stake in its retail business for US$20 billion.

Amazon has yet to release a statement on its position, however, it remains highly active in India. In May, Amazon said it would hire an additional 50,000 temp workers to meet demand created by Covid-19 lockdowns and confirmed it was planning to diversify into food delivery services in the country.

 

RRVL’s investors

                                                                         

Silver Lake

1.75% stake

9 September

KKR

1.28%

23 September

Silver Lake (second investment)

2.13%

30 September

 

General Atlantic

0.84%

30 September

 

Mubadala

1.40%  

1 October

GIC

1.22%  

2 October

 

TPG

0.41%  

3 October

 

ADIA

1.20%

6 October

 

 

 

 

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