A week after Reliance Industries signed on Google as its newest investor in telecom arm Reliance Jio, Mukesh Ambani rose to number five on the world’s richest sweepstakes.
Ambani, 63, with a net wealth of $75 billion is now the world’s fifth richest according to real time data put out by Forbes. He is also the only Asian to feature in the top 10 and trails Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos.
At its annual general meeting held on July 15, Reliance announced a close to its fund-raising plans for Jio with Google’s Rs33,737 crore being the last investment. Almost all the gains in Reliance Industries shares have come on account of the Rs152,056 crore the company has raised for Jio Platforms. Marquee investors include the likes of Facebook, sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and private equity players KKR and Vista Equity Partners. RIL’s stock closed on July 22 at Rs2,004 per share taking its market cap to Rs12,70,480 crore.
With the Jio investment success behind it, Reliance has dropped hints on monetising its stakes in other businesses. It announced plans to spin off its oil to chemicals business into a special subsidiary as well as bring in global investors into its retail business. Both present large opportunities for monetisation. There is also a looming buyout of Kishore Biyani’s Future Retail. If the deal goes through, Reliance Retail would have access to its network of food and fashion retail allowing it to further increase its lead as the large retailer by volume.
In addition, Reliance has also made moves to evolve as a platform company, with consumers staying within the Jio ecosystem for everything from movies to education, shopping to media. Reliance Retail has launched its JioMart service across 200 cities and plans to integrate it with WhatsApp for both payments and ordering.
Next on Ambani’s unseating list will be Mark Zuckerberg, who with $89 billion in net wealth, is $14 billion ahead. Both Zuckerberg and Ambani have seen their shares rally in the pandemic, as users spend more time at home and consumer more data. The gap between them and the top three—Bezos, Gates and Arnault—is at least $35 billion.