Intel to invest $255 million in Reliance’s digital unit Jio Platforms

FILE PHOTO: U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp’s logo is seen on their “smart building” in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, Israel December 15, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

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

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