Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani (pictured) moved a step closer to creating an e-commerce giant for India, unveiling plans to set up a $24 billion digital services holding company that would become the main vehicle in his ambition to dominate the country’s internet shopping space.
This is really hotting up as Ambani takes on Amazon and Flipkart (owned by Walmart).
The board of Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. approved a proposal to place $15 billion into the fully owned subsidiary, which will in turn invest that amount in Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., the conglomerate’s telecommunications venture.
The move by Asia’s richest man is the latest sign of the oil-to-petrochemicals group’s pivot toward data and digital services for future growth. Ambani, 62, told shareholders in August that the new businesses, including retail, are likely to contribute half of Reliance’s earnings in a few years, versus about 32% now.
While former English teacher Jack Ma started Alibaba in 1999 from scratch, Ambani is using the heft of his empire to build something similar for India by connecting retailers and consumers.
Shares of Reliance Industries have rallied 28% this year, compared with an 8.8% gain in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index.
The tycoon, whose net worth is about $56 billion as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has also revealed a plan to sell 20% of Reliance’s oil and chemicals business to Saudi Arabian Oil Co. at an enterprise value of $75 billion – he’s cleaning up the balance sheet and heading for a “debt free” target soon.
Watch this space!