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Saudi Fund Mulls $1 Bn Investment in Reliance Jio as Riyadh Snubs Pakistan on Loans, Oil Supply

© REUTERS / Shailesh AndradeCommuters use their mobile phones as they wait at a bus stop with an advertisement of Reliance Industries' Jio telecoms unit, in Mumbai
Commuters use their mobile phones as they wait at a bus stop with an advertisement of Reliance Industries' Jio telecoms unit, in Mumbai - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s Reliance Industries has been on a fundraising spree since April. Beginning with Facebook’s $5.8 billion purchase of a 9.9 percent stake in Reliance’s telecom platform Jio in April, the company has raised $20.08 billion from fourteen global investors in the last four months.

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) is planning to invest $1 billion in Jio Fibre Assets – the telecom arm of India’s Reliance Industries Ltd.

PIF is reportedly in talks with RIL chairman and ace Indian corporate leader Mukesh Ambani for stake a in the Reliance Jio platform.

The development comes almost a week after Saudi Arabia snubbed Pakistan on repyment of loans and ended a pact on oil supply.

PIF’s rival Abu Dhabi Investment Authority too is in talks with Ambani’s RIL for investment to the tune of $1 billion.

Reliance Jio entered the Indian telecom market in 2016. In the last four months, the company has raised funds to the tune of $20.08 billion from global tech and social media platforms. It began with Facebook’s $5.8 billion purchase of a 9.9 percent stake in Reliance Jio.

Addressing its 43rd Annual General Meeting in Mumbai last month, Ambani announced that Google would invest $4.5 billion in Jio for a 7.7 percent stake. 

Saudi investors are not only interested in RIL’s Jio platform but also in the core business of refining

Saudi Arabia's multinational petroleum and natural gas company, Saudi Aramco, said earlier this month that it was still working on a deal to buy a stake worth $15 billion in the refining and chemicals business of RIL.

This came as a possible revival of a deal that has seen no progress since Ambani announced last year that Saudi Aramco would pick up a 20 percent stake in his company's refining and petrochemical business.

Interestingly, these investments in India come at a time when Saudi Arabia’s relations with old ally Pakistan have turned sour. Saudi Arabia has ended a loan and oil supply pact with Pakistan. It also made Pakistan pay back $1 billion of the total $6.2 billion that Islamabad owes to it.

The souring of bilateral relations between Islamabad and Riyadh come in the wake of pressure being exerted by Pakistan on the Saudi Arabia-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take a stand against India on Kashmir.

Ever since the government’s abrogation of special powers for erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir last year under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and turning Kashmir a federally administered territory, Pakistan has been trying to garner the support of OIC on Kashmir. 

Malaysia, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, UAE, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Afghanistan are some of the OIC's members.

Earlier this week, Pakistan was snubbed by Saudi Arabia in its effort to mend ties. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declined to meet Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who was visiting Saudi Arabia in an effort to rework diplomatic ties. 

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