India’s Reliance to pay up to US$3.6bil for Future Group retail ops

  • Corporate News
  • Wednesday, 29 Jul 2020

New opportunities: A man walks past a closed shop painted with an advertisement of Reliance Communications owned by Mukesh Ambani in Mumbai. Asia’s richest man Ambani is seeking to strengthen his hand in India’s huge retail sector. — Reuters

BENGALURU: Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd will pay between 240 billion and 270 billion rupees (US$3.2bil-US$3.6bil) to buy the Indian retail chains owned by Future Group, Mint newspaper reported, citing two sources familiar with details of the deal.

Asia’s richest man, Ambani has been buoyed by investments close to US$20bil from backers in his oil-to-telecoms conglomerate, and is seeking to strengthen his hand in India’s huge retail sector.

Reliance’s existing retail operation already runs close to 12,000 stores, including a cash-and-carry wholesale business, in over 6,700 Indian towns and cities.

Owned by India’s “father of modern retailing”, Kishore Biyani, Future Group is home to supermarket chain Big Bazaar, upmarket food stores FoodHall, and bargain clothing chain Brand Factory.

A series of media reports have said the two were nearing agreement on the deal.

Ratings agency ICRA estimates total debt at Future Group’s listed companies had risen to 127.78 billion rupees by September last year and the company has since faced widespread closures under India’s coronavirus lockdowns.

Mint cited its sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying the sale value included Future Group’s liabilities.

Five listed entities, including Future Retail Ltd, would be merged into Future Enterprises Ltd (FEL) before the sale to one of the retail subsidiaries of Reliance, the paper added.

In May, Reliance launched JioMart, an online grocery service in a move aimed at rivalling’s local unit and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart in the huge Indian market. Ambani plans to list Reliance’s digital and retail units over the next five years.

Future Group did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the deal value. A Reliance Industries spokesperson said the company evaluated various opportunities on an ongoing basis. — Reuters

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