RIL to continue acquisition spree in 2021

Mumbai | Updated on March 07, 2021

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), which has invested in more than 100 companies over the past nearly five years, will continue its buying spree in 2021, as the company is scouting for established firms across sectors.

The firm is on the prowl to acquire to stakes in technology firms such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Cloud, Augmented Reality (AR), gaming and banking software among others. The company would look to invest in logistics, supply chain, retail, chemicals and energy among others.

The deals would be done through its subsidiaries such as Jio Platforms, JioMart, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL), Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited (RIIHL) and Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd (RSBV) among others.

“The intent is to acquire stakes and emerge among the top 20 companies in the world. The acquisition could be a minority, majority or entire holding in a company, depending on the price and valuation. While the intention is to ramp up capabilities, finalising a deal would depend on the opportunities available, and there can no certainty of closure of many deals this year,” a source close to the development said.

RIL has an option to increase its stake in companies where it had made a partial acquisition, and the company is expected to exercise it, he added.

As recent as February 28, RIL upped its stake in US-based technology company skyTran to 54.46 per cent. This was the fourth investment by RIL in skyTran, the first being in 2018.

Earlier in August 2020, Future Group announced sale of its retail and wholesale business to RRVL for ₹24,713 crore, while RIL acquired a majority stake in online pharmacy Netmeds for about ₹620 crore in the same month. Prior to that in June 2020, RIL acquired open telecom solutions provider Radisys for ₹511 crore,

In December 2019, RSBV bought a 51.78 per cent stake in robotics and AI firm Asteria Aerospace for ₹23.12 crore and an 85 per cent stake in NowFloats Technologies for ₹141.63 crore. In August the same year, RIL acquired an 87.6 per cent stake in fashion e-commerce platform Fynd for ₹295 crore, and prior to that in July it acquired British toy retailer Hamleys for about ₹620 crore.

Other acquisitions during the year were RIIHL’s buy of Grab A Grub Services Pvt Ltd for ₹106 crore and C-Square Info Solutions for ₹146 crore in March. Reliance Jio Digital Services Ltd’s acquisition of AI firm Haptik for ₹700 crore and RIL buying a majority stake in Reverie for ₹190 crore (both in April). The year saw RIL bringing in at least nine start-ups under its fold.

In October 2018, Reliance Jio Infocomm had bought majority stakes in Den Networks (66 per cent), Hathway Cable (51.3 per cent) and Datacom. Prior to that in April the same year, RIL invested $180 million in edtech startup Embibe in lieu of a 72.69 per cent stake, and earlier in RIL merged its digital music service JioMusic with Saavn and acquired a 80 per cent stake the merged entity. RIL also made a follow-on investment of about ₹58 crore AI firm Netradyne Inc in 2018.

Published on March 07, 2021

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