Mukesh Ambani’s makes a $98-million mark on New York skyline

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The Mandarin Oriental is one of the prime properties in the Big Apple

Dunzo raises $240 million in its latest round of funding led by Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (Reliance Retail)

Our Bureau
New York/Mumbai

India’s Reliance Industries, owned by Asia’s second richest man Mukesh Ambani, has agreed to buy an indirect 73.37 per cent stake worth US$98 million in New York City’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. It’s the second big ticket purchase in the hospitality sector by Reliance, an oil-to-telecoms conglomerate, that last year bought Stoke Park, which owns and manages a hotel and sports and leisure facilities in Britain’s Buckinghamshire.

Ambani, 65, also has stakes in India’s premier hotel chain – the Oberoi – and is building a state-of-the-art convention Centre hotel in the country’s financial hub Mumbai.

Inspired by the success of hoteliers like the Oberois and Tatas, many younger Indian hotel proprietors too have waded into foreign waters. Bird Group’s Ankur Bhatia, who died at age 48 last year, invested nearly US$600 million in acquiring and sprucing up three heritage properties across Britain when he was barely 40. These include Roseate House London next to the famous Hyde Park in central London and two other developments in the town of Reading and city of Bath.

Meanwhile, Dunzo, a leading player in the quick commerce category, announced on Thursday that it has raised $240 million in its latest round of funding led by Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (Reliance Retail).

The latest round of funding also got participation from existing investors Lightbox, Lightrock, 3L Capital and Alteria Capital. With an investment of $200 million, Reliance Retail will own 25.8 per cent stake on a fully diluted basis, Dunzo and Reliance Retail said in a joint statement.

“This round is a reinstatement of confidence of existing and new investors in Dunzo’s potential and success in creating an exceptional user experience,” it said.

The capital will be used to further Dunzo’s vision to be the largest quick commerce business in the country, enabling instant delivery of essentials from a network of micro warehouses while also expanding its B2B business vertical to enable logistics for local merchants in Indian cities, it added.

Commenting on the investment deal, Isha Ambani, Director, Reliance Retail Ventures Limited, said, “We are seeing a shift in consumption patterns to online and have been highly impressed with how Dunzo has disrupted the space. Dunzo is the pioneer of Quick Commerce in India and we want to support them in furthering their ambitions of becoming a prominent local commerce enabler in the country.”

“Through our partnership with Dunzo, we will be able to provide increased convenience to Reliance Retail’s consumers and differentiated customer experience through rapid delivery of products from Reliance Retail stores. Our merchants will get access to the hyperlocal delivery network of Dunzo to support their growth as they move their business online through Jio Mart,” she said.

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani interacts with his wife Nita Ambani at the 44th Annual General Meeting of Reliance Industries Limited in Mumbai (ANI)

Reliance’s Growing Empire

Some of the recent investments and acquisitions made by Reliance Industries and its subsidiaries in the technology and startup space:

January 2022: Reliance Retail said it led a $240 million funding round in quick commerce firm Dunzo and now owns 25.8% stake in the Bengaluru-based startup

July 2021: Reliance Retail acquired the 25-year-old search and discovery firm Just Dial.

August 2021: Milkbasket, a hyperlocal delivery startup, had finalized its sale to Reliance for around $40 million, after protracted discussions and shareholders disagreement.

July 2020: Reliance Brands bought out the stake held by Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures in lingerie etailer Zivame.

November 2020: Reliance Retail acquired equity shares of UrbanLadder for a cash consideration of Rs 182.12 crore giving it a 96% holding in the furniture etailer.

August 2020: Reliance Retail acquired a majority equity stake in Netmeds’ parent Vitalic for approximately Rs 620 crore.

December 2019: RIL said its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd (RSBVL) picked up 85% stake in NowFloats Technologies for a cash consideration of Rs 141.63 crore.

February 2019: Reliance Industries-controlled Reliance Industrial Investment and Holdings Limited (RIIHL) picked up a majority stake in Mumbai-based logistics platform Grab A Grub.

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