By Express News Service
MUMBAI: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)’s telecom venture Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd may hit the capital markets either in late 2018 or early 2019, according to news reports.
The Mukesh Ambani-led entity’s proposed IPO plan comes after the parent company pumping in a whopping $31 billion -- the largest ever investment made by any Indian telco in such a short span.
According to Bloomberg, Ambani held internal discussions about preparing to list Jio in late 2018 or early 2019.
When contacted, an RIL spokesperson said, “With reference to your query regarding a media article published today on Jio’s IPO plans, we would like to state that the said article is speculative and as a policy, we do not comment on media speculation and rumours.”
The proposed listing could put pressure on the company to improve its financial metrics.
The newest telecom player has just finished one full year of commercial operations in October and is yet to turn in profits.
Jio reported a net loss of $42 million during the quarter ended September 2017.
It, however, booked operational profits (profit before interest and taxes) within six months of its commercial launch. Ambani is optimistic as ever, admitting early this month at an event that the wireless operator was ‘ahead of our (its) schedule in terms of the returns’.
When it started operations last year, it roiled the country’s telecom market with its free-for-life call services, triggering a price war, resulting in losses for incumbent players like Bharti Airtel.
It led to a dramatic rise in telcos’ NPAs, which rose despite decline in actual value to Rs 2,335 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 3,465 crore in 2015-16.
In terms of percentage, the share increased to 8.7 per cent in 2016-17 from five per cent in the previous year.
Jio’s entry also spurred consolidation and shrunk the number of telco’s from 13 to just a handful.
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In fact, the consolidation drive is still on with Airtel recently agreeing to takeover Tata Group’s mobile phone business.
Vodafone Group Plc and Idea Cellular Ltd, too, are merging operations to emerge as the nation’s largest wireless operator.
Jio amassed over 138.6 million subscribers since its commercial launch last year, and emerged as the fourth largest operator, according to Trai data.