India's richest man has raised $3.4 billion for his retail empire in just a few weeks
Posted October 2, 2020 6:15 a.m. EDT
CNN — Mukesh Ambani is on another serious fundraising spree.
Asia's top billionaire on Thursday scored a major investment for his retail business, boosting the total raised for Reliance Retail over the past month to about $3.4 billion.
The latest influx of cash — about 62.5 billion rupees ($855 million) from Abu Dhabi's Mubadala — will give the state investment fund a 1.4% stake in India's biggest retailer.
Reliance has been on a roll. Earlier this year, Ambani raised more than $20 billion in just four months for his tech firm, Jio Platforms. Half of that was secured in just one month, demonstrating the executive's aggressive ambitions to develop his Mumbai-based business into a global tech giant.
Now, Ambani appears to be turning those efforts to another part of his conglomerate. Over the last few weeks, Reliance Retail has won funding from a suite of marquee investors, including Silver Lake, KKR, General Atlantic and Mubadala.
Each of them had already poured money into Reliance's tech arm as well, suggesting there was continued confidence among the group's existing investors.
"We are pleased to deepen our relationship with Reliance Industries through this investment," Khaldoon Al Mubarak, managing director and CEO of Mubadala, said in a statement.
Reliance Retail has about 12,000 stores across India and sells everything from smartphones to groceries to apparel through various eponymous brands, including Reliance Fresh, Reliance Digital and Reliance Trends. It also partners with third-party brands, including Burberry, Muji and Pottery Barn.
The company bills itself as "India's fastest growing and most profitable retail business." Over the last fiscal year, which ended in March, it brought in about $726 million in profits, according to a statement from Reliance.
Ambani has been combining his digital and retail clout. Late last year, Reliance launched JioMart, an e-commerce platform that allows users to buy groceries online.
Reliance has lofty ambitions for JioMart, which has set a goal of convincing 30 million small shops to do business on the platform. The new investment will likely be used to help build up that initiative, as well as to improve its supply chain, according to Kiran Pedada, assistant professor of marketing at the Indian School of Business.
Under Ambani's leadership, Reliance Industries has grown from an oil and energy company into a sprawling conglomerate that includes retail shops, a mobile and broadband carrier, digital platforms and more.
This investment only marks another step in that direction, said Pedada.
"Ten years ago, if you talked about Reliance, people would say, 'oil company,'" he said. Now, it's about the tech.
"They are shifting their focus," Pedada added. "They are, in my view, looking at it from a very long-term perspective. In my view, I think they will be one of the largest omni-channel retailers ... in the world."
— Rishi Iyengar and Sherisse Pham contributed to this report.