Ahead of the launch of its mobile phone services, Reliance Industries has increased its stake in Reliance Jio to almost 99 per cent. According to documents accessed by Business Standard, RIL increased its direct stake in Jio to 98.9 per cent as on March this year by pumping more capital into the company. The stake held by the Nahatas (Infotel Broadband promoter Mahendra Nahata and his son Anant) has fallen to just one per cent as they did not make any investments after 2010 in the rollout of services. The Nahatas had earlier sold Infotel Broadband to RIL soon after winning a pan-India broadband licence in 2010. The Nahatas will, however, still have a seat on the Reliance Jio board.
An email sent to RIL on Thursday seeking comments did not elicit any response. When contacted, Mahendra Nahata said as more capital in the company was infused by RIL, his stake in the company fell. “But Mukesh Ambani has been gracious enough to offer me a board seat and I am still on the board,” he said.
Led by Ambani’s confidante Manoj Modi and former Maxis CEO Sandip Das, Reliance Jio is currently in the process of rolling out a pan-India 4G infrastructure and is testing signals. Based on the current progress, it is expected to roll out services by early next year in a phased manner. The current estimated cost for this network deployment will be a massive Rs 70,000 crore. The investments are turning out to be a big concern for RIL's investors, who are worried about the profitability of the telecom venture, given the competition from well-entrenched rivals such as Bharti, Vodafone and Idea. Global bank UBS recently valued Jio at Rs 140 a share, adjusting for net debt of the company, and said any stake sale would drive up valuations of Reliance.
According to the documents submitted to bankers, Reliance will first roll out services in top urban cities, and address the rural area coverage in parallel in lieu of its presence as the extensive national backbone spreading across more than 170,000 km. “While we believe that the revenues of the Indian telecom sector will continue to grow with the economy, its composition will shift from the predominant share of voice and text services as is the case today, to broadband and digital services in the years to come. Reliance Jio is well positioned to capture a significant share of this revenue migration as well as of the additional value creation on account of broadband services,” Jio said in its filings with banks.
WHO OWNS JIO?
Infotel Infocom: 0.55%
Anant Nahata: 0.13%
Nextwave Comm: 0.17%
- Others: 0.25%