Mumbai: India’s Reliance Industries Ltd is set to sell a 20% stake in its oil to chemicals business to Saudi Aramco in one of the largest foreign investments in the country, Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Monday.
“(This is) the biggest foreign investment in the history of Reliance,” Ambani said at the company’s annual general meeting in India’s financial capital Mumbai.
“It is also amongst the largest foreign investments ever in India.”
The deal valued the business at $75 billion including debt, he said.
Ambani also announced the commercial launch of Jio Fiber on September 5, with the base plan starting at a speed of 100 MBPS and going up to 1 GBPS with prices ranging from Rs 700 to 10,000 per month.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, has been in talks with Reliance on the stake sale as it plans to secure new markets for its crude.
Saudi Aramco will also supply 500,000 barrels a day of crude oil on a long-term basis to RIL’s Jamnagar refinery, Ambani said.
“This signifies perfect synergy between the world’s largest oil producer and the world’s largest integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex,” he added.
The partnership will cover all of Reliance‘s refining and petrochemical assets, including its 51% stake in the petroleum retail joint venture, he said.
Last week, Reliance announced that it was forming a fuel retailing joint venture with global oil major BP in which Reliance would own a 51% stake.
Reliance operates two refineries in Jamnagar, Gujarat, with a total capacity of 68.2 million tonnes per annum.
It plans to expand its only-for-exports special economic zone (SEZ) refining capacity to just over 41 million tonne from current 35.2 million tonne but does not have any plans to set up a new refinery in the country.
It is currently focused on expanding petrochemical and telecom business.
While news of this deal first made its way into the public domain in April 2019, it was more recently reported that it had run into roadblocks over valuation differences and strategic sale concerns.
RIL also announced in its AGM on Monday that it plans on becoming a net debt-free company in the next 18 months (by 2021) — the Saudi Aramco deal appears to be an important component of that plan.
Jio pan-India broadband service launch from Sept 5
Ambani has also announced the roll out of Jio Giga Fiber from September 5, that will offer free voice calls for life from landline phones, high-speed broadband of minimum speed of 100 mbps, free high-definition TV and dish with minimum subscription of Rs 700 per month.
The RIL Chairman and Managing Director also announced unlimited ISD calling service from Jio landline at fixed monthly rental of Rs 500 to US and Canada.
“In India even the most basic Jio Giga Fiber will start at 100 mbps at the lowest end. We have plans to go all the way to 1 gbps. We are pricing our plan at one-tenth of global rate to make it accessible for every home,” Ambani said.
He said that plans will start at monthly rental of Rs 700 and go up to Rs 10,000.
From mid-2020, the premium Jio Giga Fiber customers will also get to watch new movies on the same day of its release, Ambani said.
“Premium Jio Giga Fiber customers can watch movies at home the same day they are released in theatres! This service will be launched in the middle of 2020,” he said.
BP to pay Rs 7,000 crore for 49% stake in RIL’s fuel retail network
Further, Ambani said that British energy giant BP will pay about Rs 7,000 crore for acquiring a 49% stake in Reliance Industries’ 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% equity stake. Reliance will hold the balance 51% 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.
Speaking at Reliance Industries’ 42nd annual general meeting, Ambani said, “In a significant new initiative, BP acquired 49% stake in our petro-retail business. Reliance will get Rs 7,000 crore from BP for this transaction.”
This is the third joint venture between Reliance and BP since 2011.
Jio subscriber base at over 340 million, ready to kick-start four new growth engines
Ambani also said that Jio, which has amassed over 340 million subscribers in less than three years, is now ready to fire four new growth engines, including Internet of Things (IoT) for the entire country, home and enterprise broadband services as well as broadband for SMEs.
“Revenue from each of these engines will kick in this fiscal itself,” Reliance Industries’ Chairman and Managing Director Ambani said.
The investment cycle of Reliance Jio is complete, and about Rs 3.5 trillion has been invested in high-speed 4G network, he said.
Terming Jio’s journey since 2016 as “incredible”, Ambani said that India was “data dark” before the entry of Jio into the telecom market. “Jio has made India data-shining bright. Today Jio customer base stands at over 340 million… The potential for growth is immense and half a billion customers, is now I believe well within our reach,” he said.
“India because of you, Jio has not only become the largest operator in India but is the second largest operator in the world on a single platform,” he said.
The investment cycle of Jio is now complete, and only marginal investments would be needed in areas to grow capacity, he said adding that this gives the company strong operational leverage and superior return on investments for years to come.
“We are ready to kick start four engines of connectivity revenue for Jio…Internet of Things for entire country, home and enterprise broadband, broadband for small and medium enterprises (SME),’ he added.
Jio, Microsoft team up for digital transformation alliance
RIL Chairman Ambani also said Reliance Jio has entered into a long-term alliance with Microsoft to accelerate digital transformation with the launch of new cloud data centres.
Ambani said that Jio is setting up a pan-India Edge Computing and Content Distribution network starting with tens of thousands of nodes. On the Jio-Microsoft alliance, he said Jio will set up a network of large world-class data centres across India powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
The two sides have entered into a long-term pact to accelerate the digital transformation in the country with launch of new cloud data centres, to ensure that more organisations can access the tools and platforms they need to build their own digital capability.
Reliance to be zero-net debt company in 18 months
Mukesh Ambani on Monday also announced plans to make Reliance group a zero-net debt company in the next 18 months as he sells stakes in oil and chemical business to Saudi Aramco and fuel retailing business to BP. “We expect to complete transactions with Saudi Aramco and BP within this financial year. These are expected to generate inflow of Rs 1.15 trillion,” he said at Reliance Industries’ 42nd annual general meeting here.
These, along with other transactions to deleverage the group, would make the company a zero-net debt company in 18 months. “We have a very clear roadmap to becoming a zero-net debt company in next 18 months,” he said.
Reliance has invested nearly Rs 5.4 trillion over the last five years to generate EBITDA in excess of $1 billion annually for over a decade.
Ambani also said Reliance “will induct leading global partners in (telecom arm) Jio and Reliance Retail in the next few quarters, and move towards listing of both these companies within the next five years.”
“As we achieve our zero-net debt target this financial year, 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.
(Reuters. With inputs from PTI)