Several announcements for J&K, Ladakh in coming months: Ambani
   Date :13-Aug-2019

CHAIRMAN and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Ltd, Mukesh Ambani on Monday said that his company would make several announcements for Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh region in the near future. “Responding to the Prime Minister’s appeal, we stand committed to support people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in all their developmental needs.
Hence, we will create a special task force and you will see several announcements for Jammu sell stakes in his flagship Reliance Industries’ oil and chemical business to Saudi oil giant Aramco and in fuel retail network to BP plc of UK for a combined Rs 1.15 lakh crore as he looked to make his company a zero-net debt firm in 18 months.
Parallelly, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate will roll out fiber-based fixed-line broadband services from September 5, offering internet speed of at least 100 mbps, free voice calls for life, television and video streaming on HD sets given for free along with the connection that would come for as low as Rs 700 per month, he said at the company’s 42th annual general meeting (AGM) here. Ambani said Saudi Aramco will buy 20 per cent stake in Reliance’s oil and chemicals business at an enterprise value of USD 75 billion while BP will pick up 49 per cent in the company’s network of petrol pumps and aviation fuel facilities.
The Saudi investment is “the biggest foreign investment in the history of Reliance,” he said. “It is also among the largest foreign investments in India.” BP had previously bought a 30 per cent stake in 21 oil and gas blocks of Reliance for USD 7.2 billion in 2011. The deal with Aramco covers all of Reliance’s refining and petrochemicals assets as well as the remainder of stake the firm has in fuel retailing business after selling 49 per cent to BP, he said. Aramco, the world’s biggest crude exporter, will also supply Reliance’s twin-refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat with 5,00,000 barrels of oil a day on a long-term basis, Ambani said.
The deal is subject to due diligence, definitive agreements, and regulatory and other approvals, he said. Ambani said BP will pay about Rs 7,000 crore for acquiring a 49 per cent stake in Reliance’s fuel retailing network. Last week, the two firms had announced a new joint venture to set up petrol pumps and retail aviation turbine fuel to airlines in India. Reliance’s existing 1,400-odd petrol pumps, as well as 31 aviation fuel stations, will be transferred to the new joint venture where BP will hold 49 per cent equity stake. Reliance will hold the balance 51 per cent in the entity, which aims to expand the retail network to 5,500 petrol pumps in the next five years, the two firms had said. “In a significant new initiative, BP acquired a 49 per cent stake in our Petro-retail business. Reliance will get Rs 7,000 crore from BP for this transaction,” Ambani said at the AGM.
The twin deals will help cut some of the Rs 2,88,243 crore group debt as on June 30, 2019. The debt, however, stood at Rs 1,54,478 crore after accounting for monetisation of telecom infrastructure such as towers. “We have a very clear roadmap to becoming a zero-net debt company within the next 18 months, that is by March 31, 2021,” he said. “We expect to complete transactions with Saudi Aramco and BP within this financial year. These are expected to generate an inflow of Rs 1.15 lakh crore.” Also, Reliance has received “strong interest” from strategic and financial investors for its consumer businesses -- telecom venture Jio and Reliance Retail, he said without giving details.
“We will induct leading global partners in these businesses in the next few quarters, and move towards the listing of both these companies within the next five years,” he said. “We will also evaluate value unlocking options for our real estate and financial investments.” With these initiatives, Reliance will have one of the strongest balance sheets in the world. “As we achieve our zero-net debt target, I assure you, my dear shareholders, that we will reward you abundantly through higher dividends, periodic bonus issues and other means, and at a more accelerated pace than any time in our history,” he said. 
Reliance to empower three crore merchants, kirana shop owners
RELIANCE Industries is working towards empowering three crore merchants and kirana shop owners with its end-to-end digital and physical distribution stack new commerce, its Chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Monday. “New commerce is a massive new business opportunity of 700 billion dollars. However, for Reliance, it is the greatest opportunity to promote inclusive growth and shared wealth at the bottom of India’s commerce and retail pyramid,” he said at the group’s 42nd annual general meeting (AGM). The main purpose of new commerce is to completely transform the unorganised retail market, which accounts for 90 per cent of India’s retail industry.
The three crore merchants and kirana shop owners, who generate direct and indirect livelihoods for over 20 crore people, form the backbone of India’s commerce eco-system, said Ambani. “These highly energetic and self-motivated entrepreneurs have suffered in recent years because of their inability to invest in technology and infrastructure. In the true Reliance ethos, we are working towards enriching and empowering them with our end-to-end digital and physical distribution stack,” he said. For this, Reliance is deploying blockchain, IoT, AI and other new technologies on a pan-India basis.
This tech-enabled partnership will link producers, traders, small merchants, consumer brands and consumers. By removing inefficiencies and value destruction in today’s market ecosystem, new commerce will transfer significant new value to consumers, producers and merchants. The merchant point of sale (POS) Solution -- Jio Prime Partner POS -- is integral to a plan to create an ecosystem around small merchants. “This user-friendly digital platform is designed for inventory management, customer relationship management, financial services and other services. This will modernise even the smallest neighbourhood kirana shop to become a future-ready digitised store,” said Ambani. “I believe that the small must not only survive but also thrive in New India.”
Reliance Retail has grown phenomenally in recent times, registering a seven-fold increase in revenue and a 14-fold increase in profit in the last six years. “Our relentless focus on operating discipline has resulted in a three-fold rise in per-store productivity in the last five years. We serve more than one lakh customers every hour, a feat no Indian retailer has been able to achieve.” Ambani said Reliance Retail registered over 50 crore footfalls last year and clocked a turnover of Rs 1.3 lakh crore last year. With a presence in nearly 7,000 towns and cities, the company has over two-third of its 10,415 stores are in tier II, tier III and tier IV towns. “Over the next five years, our aim is to be among the world’s top 20 retailers,” Ambani asserted.