The Reliance cheque that could mark the end of Kishore Biyani's play in retail

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd will pay between Rs 24,000-27,000 crore ($3.2-$3.6 billion) to buy the Indian retail chains owned by Future Group, according to a Mint report on Tuesday. The paper cited two sources familiar with details of the deal.

Ambani has been buoyed by investments close to $20 billion from backers including Google and Facebook in his oil-to-telecoms conglomerate, and is seeking to strengthen his hand in India’s huge retail sector.

Future’s interests are spread across various entities, including six listed companies. RIL is reportedly looking to acquire the retail, supply-chain and related businesses of Future, which will mark the end of founder Kishore Biyani’s play in India’s modern retail, an industry he pioneered.

A point under discussion has been Biyani’s role after the deal.

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.

Future Group is home to supermarket chain Big Bazaar, upmarket food stores FoodHall, and bargain clothing chain Brand Factory. 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, will 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 rivaling’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 evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis.

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