India's Reliance sells $750 million stake in digital unit to Silver Lake

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS) said on Monday private equity firm Silver Lake will invest nearly $750 million in its digital arm, days after securing a $5.7 billion investment from Facebook (FB.O) as the Indian conglomerate looks to pare debt.

The deal adds to a flurry of fund raising activity announced by the oil-to-telecoms group in recent weeks including a $7 billion share sale, as it aims to eliminate $21.4 billion net debt by the end of this year.

Reliance on Thursday reported a 39% fall in March quarter profit, hit by a sharp fall in oil prices and lower fuel demand, and said at the time that had received investor interest for a Facebook-like deal. Not further detail were provided.

The 56.56 billion rupees ($746.7 million) deal with Silver Lake values Jio Platforms – the digital services entity that houses Reliance’s telecoms arm Jio Infocomm and other businesses, at about $65 billion, Reliance said in a regulatory filing here

It represents a 12.5% premium to the equity valuation of the Facebook investment.

Facebook said in April it will buy a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms, looking to capitalize on WhatsApp’s extensive reach in the country and roll out services for India’s grocers and small businesses.

Shares in the Mumbai-based conglomerate, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, were trading down 1% in a broader Mumbai market .NSEI that was down 4.2% as of 0404 GMT.

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