Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani virtually addressed the 44th annual general meeting (AGM) on June 24 amid the second wave of coronavirus pandemic. India’s most valuable company shared a glimpse of its recent initiatives to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. From providing the PPE kits to the frontline workers to producing medicinal oxygen at its refineries and sending to the various parts of the country, Reliance Industries has helped India in several ways during the difficult time.
The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed Reliance Industries’ much-awaited strategic partnership with the Saudi Arabia’s Aramco. While addressing the AGM, Reliance chairman stressed, “Despite several challenges due to COVID-19, we have made substantial progress in the past year in our discussions." The partnership between Reliance Industries and Saudi Aramco will be cemented in FY22 itself, Ambani said. To effect this deal, H.E. Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Saudi Aramco and the governor of Public Investment Fund will join the board of Reliance Industries as independent director, he added.
Ambani mentioned that this partnership will also be internationalisation of Reliance Industries. Since H.E. Yasir Al-Rumayyan is a very renowned name in energy sector globally, his rich experience will benefit the oil-to-chemical conglomerate. However, Reliance Industries chairman did reveal any specifics of the its international plans during the event.
The major announcement was the launch New Energy projects. Taking clues from the International Energy Agency’s global roadmap to remove all the emission by 2050, Reliance Industries unveiled an ambitious project to bridge the green energy divide in India and globally. The company is setting up Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex in Jamnagar in an area of over 5,000 acres to integrated solar photovoltaic module factory, advanced energy storage battery factory, electrolyser factory and a fuel cell factory, shared Mukesh Ambani. Out of 450 GW of renewable energy target set by PM Modi by 2030, Reliance is expected to establish at least 100 GW of the production.
An investment of over Rs 60,000 crores will be done in the new energy projects to crate a “fully integrated, end-to-end renewable energy ecosystem." Reliance will also invest an additional amount of Rs 15,000 crore in next three years in value chain, partnerships and future technologies, including upstream and downstream industries. This new project will also help the company to achieve the goal of net carbon zero by 2035 announced last year.
Reliance’s ‘green vision’ will also be beneficial for its existing oil-to-chemical business. “New Energy is the most exciting, most challenging and most purpose-driven mission I will be pursuing in my life," Mukesh Ambani added.
On the digital front, the company plans to bring in ultra-affordable 4G smartphone — JioPhone NEXT in collaboration with Google. It will help the over 300 million 2G phone users to shift to 4G, Ambani believes. It will be a breakthrough product available in the market from September 10 this year on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Reliance is also planning to leverage the cloud technologies of Google to further its services of Reliance Retail, JioMart, JioSaavn and JioHealth. The JioPhone Next will be an ultra affordable 4G smartphone, claimed Ambani, though he did not reveal the price or any specifications.
On the broadband side, the company has added more than 2 million subscribers over the past year in over 100 cities, becoming the largest and the fastest growing fixed broadband operator in India. Jio Fiber has acquired more than 12 million homes and business premises. Also the company has started trials of 5G and has demonstrated speeds in excess of 1 GBPS. With the success of the nationwide field trials and the trial sites in Navi Mumbai, RIL is greatly positioned to move swiftly from 4G to 5G.
The retail segment of the company also saw growth with the addition of 1,500 stores, taking the total store count to 12,711. Jio mart the new corner store format launched last year had a peak orders of over 6.5 lakhs in a single day. Jio Mart with presence in over 150 cities with three lakh merchants or shopkeepers. Reliance Retail is on a hyper growth trajectory to grow at least 3x in the next 3-5 years, Ambani said.
On the retail front the company has stressed on the expansion of the physical stores to online to compete with Amazon and Flipkart. There has been reports of Tata Group is coming up with a super application providing its complete suite of services under one umbrella. It can be expected that Reliance will also consolidate all the offerings under an umbrella on online platform to stay ahead in the game.
Deepesh Jaithalia is a research analyst at Hem Securities Limited. Views expressed are personal.