Jio Platforms Ltd.’s decision to sell 9.99% stake to Facebook Inc. in a $5.7 billion deal is seen as a step towards deleveraging the balance sheet of its parent firm Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

RIL, with an outstanding debt of ₹3,06,851 crore ($43 billion) is banking on a few more multi-billion-dollar deals in energy, telecom and retail sectors to become a zero-net-debt company by the end of this fiscal.

The proceeds from the Jio-Facebook deal will reduce the net consolidated borrowings of RIL and reinforce the company’s commitment to reduce its net borrowings to zero by March 31, 2021, which is seen as credit positive by analysts.

Moody’s Investor Services expects the Jio-Facebook transaction to reduce RIL’s consolidated net debt/EBITDA by 0.4x to well below 3.0x — the tolerance level for its Baa2 rating. “The investment by Facebook establishes a valuation for RIL’s digital services business and can be used as a base for further divestment by the company. This also increases RIL’s financial flexibility,” Moody’s said. In July 2019, RIL announced the sale of its telecom tower business to Brookfield Asset Management Inc. for ₹25,200 crore.

The company also signed a non-binding letter of intent to sell 20% stake in its oil-to-chemical business to Saudi Aramco for an enterprise value of $15 billion. The company has also entered into a deal with BP Plc to sell 49% stake in its fuel marketing business in India for $1 billion. Together, the proceeds from these transactions will result in a $16 billion reduction in RIL’s net debt and the company’s leverage.

As on December 31, 2019, the company had cash and cash equivalents were at ₹153,719 crore ($21.5 billion).

News Source: The Hindu


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