KKR raises stake in Indian billionaire Ambani's Reliance Retail with $250 million

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -KKR & Co Inc has increased its stake in Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Retail Ventures by investing an additional $250 million at a valuation of $100 billion, adding to its bet on the country's biggest retailer.

The private equity firm's follow-on investment translates into an additional equity stake of 0.25% in Reliance Retail on a fully-diluted basis, taking KKR's total equity stake in the Indian company to 1.42%, the retailer said in a statement on Monday.

The investment marks growing interest in Ambani's retail operations that stretch from groceries to electronics, and include foreign partnerships with brands such as Jimmy Choo, Marks & Spencer and Pret A Manger. It has more than 18,000 stores and also competes with Amazon and Walmart's Flipkart.

In 2020, Reliance Retail raised $5.71 billion by selling a 10.09% stake to investors including KKR, the Saudi Public Investment Fund, General Atlantic and the United Arab Emirates' Mubadala.

That year, KKR had invested 55.5 billion rupees ($669.65 million) in Reliance Retail. Ambani recently said the 2020 fundraising valued the business at around $52 billion, and "in less than three years, the valuation of retail has almost doubled."

KKR’s latest investment comes primarily from its Asian Fund IV and the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, Reliance said. Morgan Stanley acted as financial adviser to Reliance Retail.

Reuters exclusively reported this month Reliance was in advanced talks with global investors to raise around $2.5 billion by the end of September, ahead of a potential stock market listing. Ambani said in 2019 that the group planned to list the retail business in five years.

The plan is part of a combined $3.5 billion target the firm set for itself, of which it raised $1 billion from Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) at a $100 billion valuation last month.

Reliance Retail reported a consolidated net profit of 91.81 billion rupees ($1.11 billion) for the financial year that ended in March 2023, on revenue of 2.6 trillion rupees.

Since last year, Reliance has been acquiring dozens of small grocery and non-food brands as it tries to build a consumer business with annual sales of $6 billion within five years to challenge foreign giants like Unilever.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Toby Chopra, Tomasz Janowski and Deepa Babington)