Just Dial’s founder VSS Mani will continue as managing director and CEO, post-acquisition

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Reliance Retail Ventures to take controlling stake in Just Dial. (Credit: Pete Linforth from Pixabay)

Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL) has agreed to acquire a 66.95% stake in Just Dial, a publicly-listed Indian internet technology company, for INR34.97bn ($470m).

Founded in 1996, Just Dial specialises in local search, B2B, and e-commerce for various services in India through its website and mobile apps, and over the phone.

Reliance Retail Ventures, on the other hand, is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. It serves as the holding company of the latter’s retail businesses.

Initially, Reliance Retail Ventures will acquire a 25.33% stake in Just Dial through a preferential allotment of shares, priced at INR1,022 ($13.66) per share.

Additionally, Just Dial’s founder and CEO VSS Mani has agreed to sell a 15.62% stake in the company to Reliance Retail Ventures at the same price.

The remaining 26% stake is planned to be acquired by Reliance Retail Ventures after making a public announcement to the public shareholders of Just Dial, in compliance with the takeover regulations of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Post-acquisition, Mani will continue as the company’s managing director and CEO.

Reliance Retail Ventures director Isha Ambani said: “Reliance is excited to partner with Justdial and Mr. VSS Mani, a first-generation entrepreneur, who has created a strong business through his business acumen and perseverance.

“The investment in Just Dial underlines our commitment to New Commerce by further boosting the digital ecosystem for millions of our partner merchants, micro, small and medium enterprises.”

As of 31 Mar 2021, Just Dial had a database of around 30.4 million listings and consumer traffic of nearly 129.1 million quarterly unique users.

The internet technology company had recently launched a B2B marketplace platform called JD Mart. The platform allows Indian manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and wholesalers to find new customers and sell their products through the internet.

Just Dial is expected to use the investment from Reliance Retail Ventures towards its growth and expansion into a comprehensive local listing and commerce platform.

The company would also expand discovery on its platform and improve transactions for products and services sold.

Mani said: “Nearly 25 years ago, we had a vision to build a connected single platform dedicated to providing fast, free, reliable and comprehensive information to our users and connect buyers to sellers.

“Our vision has evolved to not only provide search and discovery but drive commerce across merchants through our B2B platform and enable further consumer to merchant commerce given our platform engagement. Our strategic partnership with Reliance enables us to realise this vision and transform the business going forward.”

The closing of the transaction will be subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.