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HIGHS AND LOWS

With a $1.3 billion funding in retail arm, Ambani has closed a rather turbulent week on a high note

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
This too shall pass.
  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Reporter

Published

From net worth erosion and a looming lawsuit to a billion-dollar investment, it’s been a roller-coaster week for India’s wealthiest man.

On Oct. 30, Mukesh Ambani slipped three spots on the global rich list to number nine after the share price of his oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries (RIL) dropped nearly 9% in a day on the back of disappointing earnings for the July-September quarter. The share price fall wiped $6.5 billion (Rs4.81 lakh crore) from Ambani’s net worth in a single day, as per Bloomberg.

As of today (Nov. 6), Ambani is at the eighth spot in the Forbes’ real-time net worth data list.

It doesn’t help that Ambani is in the middle of a spat with the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos whose e-commerce venture Amazon is contesting an acquisition announced by RIL earlier this year.

But unfazed by all this, the 63-year-old Indian tycoon yesterday (Nov. 5) announced a $1.3 billion investment for his retail arm, Reliance Retail, from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund PIF.

Reliance Retail funding from PIF

The investment in Reliance Retail comes after PIF invested Rs11,367 crore in Jio Platforms in July. PIF joins a bunch of other marquee investors who have backed Reliance Retail in the last two months.

But a deal that would have given Reliance Retail a big push, is currently in limbo, which could drag down Ambani’s retail ambitions.

Ambani vs Bezos update

In August, RIL had announced its plans to acquire the retail and wholesale business of Future Group, which would bring popular brands such as Big Bazaar, Easy Day, and WH Smith under the Reliance Retail umbrella. However, Amazon has said that it had a legal pact with Future Group that barred the latter from selling its business to RIL.

In October, the American e-commerce giant got an order from the Singapore International Arbitration Centre restraining Future Group from going ahead with the $3.4 billion deal with RIL.

Now, all the parties are trying every trick in their bags to turn the situation in their favour.

This week, Future Group filed a caveat before the Delhi High Court requesting it to be heard if any plea is filed by Amazon. On Nov. 5, The Economic Times reported that the pact between Amazon and Future Group barred the latter from selling its assets to 15 companies, including Walmart, Google, Alibaba, Softbank, eBay, Target, Paytm, and Zomato, besides RIL.

With uncertainty around Bezos’ next move and a weak outlook for RIL’s oil business, the upcoming weeks may unfold new hurdles for Ambani.

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