NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Intel Corp’s <INTC.O> investment arm will pay some $255 million for a small stake in Reliance Industries Ltd’s <RELI.NS> digital unit Jio Platforms, the latest in a slew of share sales that have helped the Indian conglomerate pay down debt.
Reliance has now sold just over a quarter of Jio Platforms, the unit that houses its telecoms venture Jio Infocomm and its music and movie apps, raising $15.8 billion from investors including Facebook Inc <FB.O> and KKR & Co <KKR.N>.
The deals highlight Jio Platforms’ potential to become the dominant player in India’s digital economy.
The telecoms unit has already decimated several rivals with cut-throat pricing, while Reliance is also using Jio Platforms’ technology in its new e-commerce venture that seeks to rival Amazon <AMZN.O> and Walmart’s <WMT.N> Flipkart. Jio Platforms is also working on connected cars, security systems and smart homes.
The sale of the 0.39% stake for 18.95 billion rupees gives Jio Platforms an enterprise value of 5.16 trillion rupees ($69 billion), Reliance said in a statement.
The deals and a $7 billion share sale have helped Reliance become net-debt free, the company said last month. It had previously planned to rid itself of net debt of just over $21 billion by the year end.
The oil-to-retail conglomerate, controlled by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, plans to wrap up most of its private fundraising for Jio Platforms by the third quarter of 2020 and then explore a potential public listing in the United States in 2021, a source familiar with matter has said.
(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal and Chris Thomas; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Edwina Gibbs)