Silver Lake Invests $750 Million in India’s Reliance Jio

U.S. investment group Silver Lake is to spend $750 million buying a slice of budding Indian media powerhouse Jio Platforms.

The two companies announced their deal less than two weeks after Facebook paid $5.7 billion to buy a 9.9% stake in Jio. The Silver Lake deal gives Jio Platforms a valuation of $65 billion, some 12.5% higher than the figure implied by the Facebook deal.

Jio Platforms is part of Reliance Industries, a sprawling petroleum to property conglomerate controlled by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest person.

In its early iteration, Jio offered low cost, nationwide cellular broadband services that quickly shook up the phones, internet and pay-TV markets. In three and a half years from launch, it now claims 388 million subscribers.

Reliance Industries has built its own streaming-era media empire. This has included acquiring stakes in TV groups, and the development of its own content production studios. Jio Platforms now has an array of media operations including music streaming service JioSaavn, broadband, on-demand live television service JioTV, and payments service JioPay. It also has a 5% stake in Eros International.

“In the wake of the severe economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, globally and especially within India, this partnership with one of the most renowned tech-investors globally, Silver Lake, has special significance. Comprehensive digitisation will be a vital component of the revitalisation of the Indian economy. It is our strong conviction that no one should be deprived of the tremendous new opportunities, including those for new employment and new businesses, embedded in India’s 360-
degree digital transformation,” said Reliance in a statement.

The move also helps Reliance industries reduce the debt burden that it amassed during its recent expansionary phase. The company said that it aims to eliminate more than $21 billion of debt by the year end. It announced a $7 billion share sale last week.

Silver Lake has approximately $40 billion in combined assets under management and committed capital and has a focus on the global tech and tech-enabled opportunities.  Its investments have included Airbnb, Alibaba, Ant Financial, Alphabet’s Verily and Waymo units, Dell Technologies, and Twitter.