MUMBAI: The 43rd Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be keenly watched by investors for new announcements on the technology front after having raised a mammoth ₹1.18 lakh crore in 12 weeks from global technology giants and investors. Key things to watch out for will be announcements on next generation network technology like 5G and well as any further additions to the integrated Jio digital ecosystem offerings.
Over the past few years, RIL AGMs have been increasingly marked by announcements of the long term telecom-technology vision for the company starting from the Reliance Jio Infocomm telecom services, the JioPhone and a digital commerce ecosystem.The company has been increasingly positioning itself among technology companies with major strides in telecom, data services, content and digital commerce spaces among many others. They have also been ramping up their enterprise offerings through their global tech partnerships with the likes of Microsoft. Most importantly, its technology arm Jio Platforms has been winning the confidence of global tech investors seeking a pie of the booming digital economy in India.
On Sunday, the world's leading wireless technology innovator Qualcomm's investment arm committed to invest up to ₹730 crore for a 0.15% stake in Jio Platforms. With this investment, the mega telco has so far raised ₹1.18 lakh crore and sold 25.24% of its stake. Jio Platforms houses RIL’s telecom business under Reliance Jio Infocomm, the largest in the country with nearly 400 million subscribers, besides other digital properties and investments. Investors in Jio Platforms include TPG, KKR, L Catterton, General Atlantic, Vista Equity Partners, two sovereign wealth funds from Abu Dhabi—Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Mubadala—and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
Jio is the only telecom network in India that is not dependent on any of the Chinese telecom equipment providers, placing itself favourably in the current global discourse around the use of Chinese equipment for critical telecom services. Further, with multiple investments across startups, the company’s larger technology vision is yet to be clear beyond their telecom growth plans. For some time now, analysts have believed that Jio is working towards a Super App ecosystem on the lines of the Chinese giant WeChat to bundle all of their tech offerings together, which has been driving the valuation of Jio Platforms. Note that most of Jio's tech offerings have been through partnerships and startup acquisitions as in case of the Whatsapp-JioMart offering.
“We now value Jio’s non-wireless verticals (health, education, agri-tech, home broadband, enterprise services, Internet of Things (IoT), and Jio’s app suite), given the significant progress in many of them and the possibility of aggressive customer ramp-up enabled by the recent significant deleveraging ($23.7 billion). We assign an enterprise value (EV) of $17.5 billion for non-wireless verticals, increasing Jio’s EV (enterprise value) to $88.5 billion," Credit Suisse said in a report dated July 13.
Among other announcements expected today are Jio’s plans across tele-medicine, healthcare (combination of Jio HealthHub and Reliance Life Sciences), online education (recent startup investments in Embibe, Funtoot, Online Tyari), advertisement revenue monetization plans across the Jio content ecosystem and their foray into mutual funds distribution as announced in the annual report last month. Jio is also expected to make some announcements around agri-tech as it has mentioned interest in creating a technology ecosystem for farm-to-store cycle of produce. Given its partnership with Microsoft, which has decades of investment in agri-tech sciences, some innovative announcements may be on the cards.