New Delhi/Mumbai: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani is weighing an initial public offering (IPO) of mobile operator Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, people with knowledge of the matter said, after a $31 billion investment spree that roiled the country’s telecom market.
Reliance Industries Ltd, the conglomerate backed by tycoon Mukesh Ambani, is holding internal discussions about preparing to list Reliance Jio as soon as late 2018 or early 2019, according to the people. Reliance Jio, which hasn’t made a profit since its official launch last year, is targeting to improve its financial performance before any share sale, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
A Reliance Jio listing would cap a triumphant return to the Indian wireless market for Ambani, more than a decade after a family feud that led him to cede control of a previous telecom venture to his younger brother. Reliance Jio, which is wholly owned by Reliance Industries, launched a free-for-life call service last year that triggered a price war and consolidation in one of the world’s most crowded mobile markets.
Bharti Airtel Ltd this year agreed to absorb Tata Group’s mobile phone business, while Vodafone Group Plc and Idea Cellular Ltd announced they would merge their local operations to create the nation’s largest wireless operator. Despite being the newest entrant, Reliance Jio has accumulated more than 138.6 million subscribers, making it the fourth largest operator at the end of September, according to data from the telecom regulator.
Deliberations about a Reliance Jio IPO are at an early stage, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, the people said. A representative for Reliance Industries declined to comment.
Reliance Jio reported a net loss of Rs271 crore ($42 million) in the quarter ended 30 September, though the business made a profit before interest and taxes over the period. The wireless operator is “ahead of our schedule in terms of the returns" generated, Ambani said at a 1 December event in New Delhi.
Ambani has a net worth of nearly $40 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Shares of Reliance Industries have jumped 70% this year, giving the company a market value of about $93 billion.
India’s benchmark index is trading near an all-time high, which has helped fuel a record IPO haul in the country. First-time share sales in the country have raised Rs75,000 crore ($11.6 billion) this year, more than double the previous record set in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bloomberg