Reliance Industries considers sale of $989 million Asian Paints stake


By Baiju Kalesh, Anto Antony and P R Sanjai

Reliance Industries is considering selling its stake in India’s largest paint maker valued at about $989 million as the conglomerate steps up efforts to trim its debt, said people familiar with the matter.

The company controlled by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest person, is in discussions with banks for a potential sale of its 4.9 per cent stake in Asian Paints through a series of block trades, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public. Reliance holds the stake through Teesta Retail Pvt.

Shares of Asian Paints closed 1 per cent lower at 1,594.3 rupees on Thursday in Mumbai. Reliance’s 4.9 per cent stake in the paint maker is worth about 74.9 billion rupees ($989 million), based on the last price.

A stake sale would be the latest in a string of fundraising plans unveiled by Reliance in order to bolster investor confidence, even as the crash in oil prices pulled down profit at the company’s oil-to-chemicals business. Last month, Reliance said that the group’s net debt would be slashed to zero ahead of its previous target of early 2021.

A final decision hasn’t been taken sale including size and timing, and Reliance could decide not to proceed with a deal, the people said.

A spokesman for Reliance declined to comment.

Reliance announced on April 30 that it plans to raise about 531 billion rupees in a rights offer. The decision came days after Facebook Inc. said it would pay $5.7 billion to buy a 10 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, Reliance’s digital arm. Private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners will also invest about $753 million in the unit, the company said on Monday.

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