Mukesh Ambani, the most hardworking businessman in the lockdown

While the economy grapples with the fallout of Covid-19 and the harshest lockdown in the world, the Ambani raised more than $20 billion of investment for Jio Platforms — signing deals with blockbuster investors, including Facebook, Google, private...

Mukesh Ambani's 2020 shopping spree has made one thing clear — even a pandemic is no deterrent for Asia's richest man.

In just four years since inception, Jio has managed to reshape India’s telecommunications landscape, armed with the triple play of carriage, content and commerce.

While the Indian economy grapples with the fallout of Covid-19 and the harshest lockdown in the world, the Reliance boss raised more than $20 billion of investment for Jio Platforms — signing deals with blockbuster investors, including Facebook, Google, private equity firms like Silver Lake, and KKR, and Abu Dhabi’s two largest sovereign investment arms, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Mubadala.


With this, Ambani has not only fulfilled his promise to investors of making Reliance debt-free, but he now also has a leg up in his quest to take on retail giants like Amazon and Walmart in India.

Facebook's $6 billion investment in April is perhaps the most crucial building block, with JioMart looking to tap into Facebook-owned Whatsapp's 400 million-strong Indian user base to connect customers with mom-and-pop stores.

While the recent mega investments have drawn the spotlight, Ambani's legacy oil-and-petrochemicals empire began an acquisition spree back in 2017. The idea was to build expertise in newer technologies and create a digital business that's all-encompassing, from online retail to streamed entertainment and internet payments.
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The strategy involves offering mobility solutions for voice and data, high speed internet and a whole host of digital services and content.

Upending Indian telecom industry’s established playbook with free voice calls and cheap data, Ambani has, since then, forced smaller rivals, including his younger brother Anil, to back off.

Telecom firmly in his bag, Ambani has now set his sights on other segments. Since 2017, RIL has spent over $3 billion in acquisitions, to bolster Jio as well as Reliance Retail.

Over the past few years, Reliance has taken on a stream of players from different sectors to strengthen its own offerings, including ed-tech startup Embibe, music streaming app Saavn, O2O commerce platform Fynd, logistics player Grab and AI-based chatbot major Haptik.
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In May last year, Ambani agreed to purchase 259-year-old British toy store Hamleys, which finally gave the conglomerate the global presence it had lacked thus far.

Looking at Future
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According to reports, Reliance is also close to acquiring Kishore Biyani's Future Retail. The estimated $3 billion deal, which will also involve Future Group’s grocery and logistics arms, will further cement its position in India’s retail segment.

Along with this, deals with online furniture retailer Urban Ladder and milk delivery firm Milkbasket are also said to be in the making. An established furniture brand in its portfolio will mark Ambani's entrance into the furniture space, while Milkbasket would strengthen JioMart's customer base.

Even with a late entry into the consumer game, the oil refining and petrochemicals tycoon is ready and armed to battle Alexa for the India crown.
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