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Reliance finally acquires Kishore Biyani's Future retail group

The acquisition will add new retail formats to the Reliance retail empire.

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MUMBAI: Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, can add another sobriquet to his name: that of India’s undisputed – means undisputed -  Retail King. Today, his Reliance  group announced that it was acquiring the retailing empire of Kishore Biyani, who earlier bore the retail king title, in a transaction valued at Rs 24,173 crore. This ends months of speculation and reportage in the Indian media that the two were in talks.

The vehicle for the acquisition: Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).  The deal covers the the retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses from the Future group. The latter is merging certain companies carrying on the above mentioned business into Future Enterprises Ltd (FEL).

As a part of the same scheme, the  retail and wholesale undertaking is being transferred to Reliance Retail and Fashion Lifestyle Ltd (RRFLL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of RRVL; the logistics and warehousing undertaking is being transferred to RRVL; and RRFLL also proposes to invest Rs 1,200 crore in the preferential issue of equity shares of FEL to acquire 6.09 percent of post-merger equity; and Rs 400 crore in a preferential issue of equity warrants which, upon conversion and payment of balance 75 per cent of the issue price, will result in RRFLL acquiring a further 7.05 per cent of FEL.

The Future Group has some well-established  retail formats, including supermarket chain Big Bazaar, upmarket food stores Foodhall, and bargain clothing chain Brand Factory.

"With this transaction, we are pleased to provide a home to the renowned formats and brands of Future Group as well as preserve its business ecosystem, which have played an important role in the evolution of modern retail in India,” RRVL director Isha Ambani said.  “We hope to continue the growth momentum of the retail industry with our unique model of active collaboration with small merchants and kiranas as well as large consumer brands. We are committed to continue providing value to our consumers across the country."

Biyani had built up a huge pile of debt at the Future group to fund his expansion plans, but the Covid2019 pandemic put paid to his ability to service it.

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