Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani has pulled in another $1.5 billion for his bid to build a new global tech giant, getting another top investor on board and swelling his war chest to $10 billion.
His Indian tech company Jio Platforms on Friday announced that it has secured 113.7 billion rupees ($1.5 billion) from US private equity giant KKR.
Ambani said in a statement that the investment will allow his company to leverage “KKR’s global platform, industry knowledge and operational expertise to further grow Jio.”
Jio is part of the billionaire’s sprawling conglomerate Reliance Industries. It includes Reliance Jio, India’s biggest mobile network with more than 388 million subscribers. Jio also has an ecosystem of apps, offering those millions of mobile users everything from online grocery shopping, to digital payments, to video streaming.
Facebook kicked off the splurge of investments when it plowed $5.7 billion into Jio Platforms for a roughly 10% stake late last month. Since then, Jio has secured funding from a clutch of A-list American investors, including Silver Lake, Vista, General Atlantic and now KKR.
KKR, which has nearly $220 billion in assets under management, has invested in several high-profile tech companies such as TikTok-owner ByteDance, GoJek, Lyft and Epic Games.
Henry Kravis, KKR’s co-founder and co-CEO, called the momentum of Ambani’s company “impressive.”
“Few companies have the potential to transform a country’s digital ecosystem in the way that Jio Platforms is doing in India, and potentially worldwide,” Kravis said in a press release.
The comments were a nod to what analysts say is Ambani’s ultimate goal: to build the next global technology company, one that will hold rank alongside the likes of Google, Tencent, Amazon and Alibaba.
The billions raised in the last few weeks will be used to fuel that ambition, as well as pay down ballooning debt at Jio’s parent company. The oil and energy industry, which forms a big part of Reliance’s business, has been badly dented by the coronavirus pandemic. Global oil demand has cratered because of sharp declines in transport, industrial and commercial activity.
Ambani said at a shareholders meeting last year that he wants Reliance Industries to become a “zero net debt company” by March 2021. As of March 2020, Reliance had about $44 billion of debt on its books.
Last month, Reliance Industries said it is ahead of schedule and will achieve its zero debt target by the end of the year.