Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio will continue its growth momentum in the country and will cross 500 million mobile subscribers mark by financial year 2023, which will further touch 569 million in FY25 and 609 million in FY28, Bernstein said in a report released on Wednesday.
The 4G telecom operator’s subscriber base stood at 388 million in FY20. Bernstein said that if Vodafone Idea is forced to close, Jio’s subscriber share would likely move towards 60% but might result in less capacity to raise prices. Bernstein has also reduced expectations for FY21 subscriber net adds to reflect a likely slowdown during the early part of this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown. It has also lowered forecasts on ARPU due to the lower than expected ARPU post the price rises last December.
Jio ARPU went up from Rs 128 in October-December 2019 quarter to Rs 131 in January-March 2020. “We expect an IPO of Jio sometime over the next few years as its market share approaches 50%. By then ARPUs will have improved and we expect service revenue will double over the next three years.” It said. Reliance Jio is also likely to reach 48% subscriber market share by fiscal 2025, while its revenue market share will touch 44%.
The global brokerage said that a strategic cooperation between Facebook and other parts of the Reliance Group is likely, but most of the other investments in Jio Platforms are passive. Reliance gets access to much-needed capital to assist in paying down debt, and these investors get early access to the leading Telco platform in India.
Facebook invested Rs 435.7 billion ($5.7 billion) to secure 9.99% stake at a $65.95 billion pre-money enterprise value; this was closely followed by a further Rs 607.5 billion ($8.0 billion) in investment spread across 8 different private equity investors. All together Reliance has monetised 22.4% of Jio Platforms and raised Rs 1.04 trillion ($13.7billion) in the process.
“With all the positive news regarding investments in Jio Platforms you might expect we would become more optimistic regarding the value of the company. Instead we have become slightly more pessimistic about the near-term and have taken down our numbers,” Bernstein said.
It said that COVID-19 and the resulting shutdown has likely reduced the rate of gross additions to the platform. “While we expect this to recover as India re-emerges from lockdown, we take down our numbers for the year and this has a flow-on effect.”
Bernstein further added that the price increases in December have a more muted effect on Jio’s ARPU than Bharti’s and were lower than we expected. “We think lower value JioPhone users having already increased their Telco spend (to increase their data allowance) may have found further increases harder to absorb. More of the Jio base appears to have down traded than for Bharti Airtel,” it added.