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Reliance Retail picks up 16% in JioPhone’s operating system provider
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

Reliance Retail Ltd, the retail business of Mukesh Ambani-controlled conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd, has picked up 16% stake in a California-based firm that provides operating system for its internet-enabled low-cost mobile, JioPhone.

As part of the all-cash deal, Reliance Retail has dished out $7 million (Rs 45.49 crore) for the shareholding in the mobile operating system provider KaiOS Technologies, Inc., Reliance Industries said in a stock-exchange disclosure. The firm has subscribed to 1,904,781 common shares at $3.675 each.

Reliance Retail distributes JioPhone, which runs on a mobile operating system called KaiOS.

Reliance Industries said the investment can result in synergies with Reliance Retail’s current investments in affordable digital devices and also with the digital services initiatives of the group.

Reliance Retail is a step-down subsidiary of Reliance Industries. It is into retail business and operates a chain of neighbourhood stores, supermarkets, wholesale cash-and-carry stores and speciality stores.

In the consumer electronics category, it operates Reliance Digital, Reliance Digital Express Mini and Jio stores.

Incorporated in 2014, San Diego, California-based KaiOS Technologies is a mobile operating system provider. The operating system, KaiOS, has presence in India, Canada and the US through partnerships with telecom operators Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Reliance Jio, according to the firm’s website.

KaiOS enables operation of web-linked devices with limited memory. The operating system aims to combine the power of a smartphone with the affordability of a feature phone.

KaiOS Technologies saw its revenue grow more than three times to $9.25 million for 2017 from $2.5 million for 2016. It has a workforce of over 170 people spread over offices in the US, Brazil, Hong Kong, France, India, China, and Taiwan, according to its LinkedIn profile.

KaiOS originates from the Firefox OS (operating system) open-source project, which started in 2011. KaiOS was first launched publicly in the US in 2017.

Last month, Reliance Industries had agreed to buy a 5% stake in New York Stock Exchange-listed Eros International Plc, which co-produces, acquires, and distributes Indian films. Also, Reliance and Eros India said they have agreed to jointly produce content and will invest up to Rs 500 crore each to produce and acquire Indian films and digital originals in various languages.

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