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Business deals

Intel to invest $255m in Reliance digital unit Jio Platforms

Sale of 0.39% stake in telecom and app unit cuts Indian conglomerate's debt

Reliance has now sold just over a quarter of Jio Platforms, raising $15.8 billion from investors including Facebook and private equity fund KKR.   © Reuters

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -- Intel Corp's investment arm will pay some $255 million for a small stake in Reliance Industries Ltd's digital unit Jio Platforms, the latest in a slew of share sales that have helped the Indian conglomerate pay down debt.

Reliance has now sold just over a quarter of Jio Platforms, the unit that houses its telecoms venture Jio Infocomm and its music and movie apps, raising $15.8 billion from investors including Facebook Inc and KKR & Co.

The deals highlight Jio Platforms' potential to become the dominant player in India's digital economy.

The telecoms unit has already decimated several rivals with cut-throat pricing, while Reliance is also using Jio Platforms' technology in its new e-commerce venture that seeks to rival Amazon and Walmart's Flipkart. Jio Platforms is also working on connected cars, security systems and smart homes.

The sale of the 0.39% stake for 18.95 billion rupees gives Jio Platforms an enterprise value of 5.16 trillion rupees ($69 billion), Reliance said in a statement.

The deals and a $7 billion share sale have helped Reliance become net-debt free, the company said last month. It had previously planned to rid itself of net debt of just over $21 billion by the year end.

The oil-to-retail conglomerate, controlled by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, plans to wrap up most of its private fundraising for Jio Platforms by the third quarter of 2020 and then explore a potential public listing in the United States in 2021, a source familiar with matter has said. ($1 = 74.6600 Indian rupees)

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