Reliance says Saudi's PIF to invest $1.49 billion in Jio

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) will buy a 2.32% stake in Reliance Industries' RELI.NS digital unit Jio Platforms for 113.67 billion rupees ($1.49 billion), the Indian conglomerate said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A woman checks her mobile phone as she walks past a mobile store of Reliance Industries' Jio telecoms unit, in Mumbai, India, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

The deal with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund means Reliance has now sold 24.7% of Jio Platforms and raised just over $15 billion from investors including Facebook FB.O.

The investment gives Jio Platforms -- which comprises telecoms venture Jio Infocomm and music, movie apps -- an enterprise value of 5.16 trillion rupees, Reliance said in a statement.

“We believe that the potential of the Indian digital economy is very exciting and that Jio Platforms provides us with an excellent opportunity to gain access to that growth,” PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said in the statement.

PIF, which manages more than $300 billion in assets, invested $7.7 billion in global equities in the first quarter.

PIF has been interested in technology and has stakes in Uber Technologies UBER.N and a $45 billion allocation to SoftBank's 9984.T Vision Fund.

The Jio Platforms deals, along with a $7 billion share sale, will help Reliance meet its target of paying off $21.4 billion of net debt by the end of the year, according to the company.

Reliance, controlled by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, disrupted the country’s telecoms sector by launching Jio Infocomm in late 2016 with free voice and cut-price data.

Jio forced many rivals out of business and drove consolidation in the sector.

Ambani has always pitched Jio as a tech company rather than a traditional telecoms player.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal and Philip George; Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar; editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Jason Neely