Reliance Industries takes majority stake in drone maker Asteria Aerospace
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Reliance Industries Ltd has acquired a majority stake in drone maker Asteria Aerospace Pvt. Ltd, as billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s retail-to-refining conglomerate continues to gobble up new-age technology companies.

India’s biggest company by market value said in a stock-exchange filing that it has bought a 51.78% stake in Asteria for Rs 23.12 crore ($3.3 million) and that it will invest an additional Rs 125 crore to increase its holding to 87.3%.

RIL, which made the acquisition through wholly-owned unit Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd, said the additional investment is subject to Asteria achieving certain milestones and is likely to be completed by December 2021.

Asteria, incorporated in June 2011, is a full-stack drone technology company with in-house drone manufacturing capabilities. It also offers software solutions to provide insights from aerial data, intending to deliver "drone-as-a-service" digital platform, Reliance said.

The company reported a turnover of Rs 1.96 crore, Rs 2.04 crore, and Rs 1 lakh for 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. It reported losses of Rs 12.71 crore, Rs 2.47 crore, and Rs 2.43 crore for the same period. Venture capital firm Boundary Holding is an investor in Asteria, according to VCCEdge, the data research arm of Mosaic Digital.

RIL’s bets in the technology segment

This is at least the fourth acquisition that RIL or a RIL-owned firm has made since September. The energy-to-groceries conglomerate has made no bones about its strategic push into the technology segment. This is also factored in by Jio, India’s largest telecommunications operator.

In September, the Reliance-owned artificial intelligence-based conversational AI platform Haptik acquired Buzzo.ai, a Mumbai-based conversational commerce platform. In July, Haptik acqui-hired Los Angeles-based conversational AI startup Convrg Technologies Inc. to expand its business in North America.

In August, RIL said it would acquire a majority stake in Shopsense Retail Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs fashion portal Fynd, for Rs 295.25 crore (around $41.9 million). The acquisition came after the Mumbai-based Fynd raised its Series C funding in March last year. The investment was led by Google.

In December last year, it purchased an equity stake of 5.56% in UK-based blockchain startup Vakt Holdings Ltd for $5 million (Rs 35 crore) to accelerate its digital journey through active participation in an emerging and evolving blockchain-enabled technologies.

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