Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani on Wednesday addressed the conglomerate's first virtual annual general meeting (AGM). In his address, he made major announcements " from Google buying a 7.7 percent stake in exchange for an investment of over Rs 33,000 crore to the progress on indigenous 5G network and expansion of JioMart.
Ambani said RIL has become the first Indian company to exceed market cap of $150 billion. Consumer business continued to deliver EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization) growth of 49 percent this year, he added.
Following were the key points that emerged from the annual general meeting:
Google picks up 7.7 percent stake in Jio
Google has agreed to invest Rs 33,737 crore to buy a 7.7 per centstake in Reliance Industries' technology venture, adding to a slew of investments since April that has crossed Rs 1.52 lakh crore.
California-based Alphabet Inc joins Facebook Inc, which opened the investment cycle in Jio Platforms by picking 9.99 percent stake for Rs 43,573.62 crore, as well as chipmaker Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc.
"We are delighted to welcome Google as a strategic investor in Jio Platforms. We have signed a binding partnership and an investment agreement under which Google will invest Rs 33,737 crores for a 7.7 per cent stake in Jio Platforms," RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani said at the company's annual general meeting.
With Google coming on board, Reliance has completed its target of capital raising for Jio Platforms, he said.
With this deal, Reliance has sold 32.84 per cent stake in Jio Platforms Ltd - the unit that houses India''s youngest but largest telecom firm Jio Infocomm and apps. In total, Jio has raised Rs 1,52,055.45 crore.
'Jio developing homegrown 5G telecom solution'
Ambani also announced that his group''s digital arm Jio is developing a homegrown 5G telecom solution.
"Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. It will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available and can be ready for field deployment next year," Ambani said at Reliance Industries'' annual general meeting.
Jio''s global-scale 4G and fibre network is powered by several core software technologies and components. "It is this capability and know-how that positions Jio on the cutting edge of another exciting frontier " 5G," he said.
Jio Platforms, with over 20 startup partners, has built world-class capabilities in technologies such as 4G, 5G, Cloud computing, Devices and OS, Big Data, AI, AR/VR, Blockchain, Natural Language Understanding and Computer Vision, he said.
"Using these technologies, we can create compelling solutions across multiple industry verticals like media, financial services, new commerce, education, healthcare, agriculture, smart cities, smart manufacturing & smart mobility," he said, adding Jio Platforms is conceived with vision of developing original, captive intellectual property, using which we can demonstrate transformative power of technology across multiple ecosystems " first in India, and then rest of world.
In the next three years, Jio will connect half a billion mobile customers, a billion smart sensors and 50 million home and business establishments, Ambani said.
Saudi Aramco deal on hold due to pandemic
The RIL chairman also said the deal with Saudi Aramco has not progressed according to the scheduled time due to ongoing pandemic situation.
"The deal with Saudi Aramco hasn't progressed per original timeline due to unforeseen situation in the energy market and COVID-19 situation. We value our two-decade relationship with Aramco and are committed to long term partnership," Ambani said while speaking at the 43rd Annual General Meeting of the company.
Reliance will be spinning off the oil-to-chemical (O2C) business into a separate subsidiary "to facilitate multiple partnership opportunities," he said.
"We expect to complete this process by early 2021," he said.
Ambani in August last year had announced talks for sale of 20 per cent stake in the O2C business, which comprises of RIL''s twin oil refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat and petrochemical assets, to the world''s largest oil exporter, Saudi Aramco. The deal was to be concluded by March 2020 but was delayed.
"Reliance is working to complete the contours of a strategic partnership with Saudi Aramco," Ambani had said in the firm''s latest annual report without giving timelines.
The partnership with Aramco would give Jamnagar refineries "access to a wide portfolio of value-accretive crude grades and enhanced feedstock security for higher oil-to-chemicals conversion," he had said in the annual report.
'Received interest from strategic investors for Reliance Retail'
On the subject of RIL's retail venture, Ambani said it has received strong interest from strategic and financial investors.
"We will induct global partners and investors in Reliance Retail in the next few quarters," he said.
Reliance Retail has already started pilots of its ecommerce venture.
"We have successfully piloted JioMart grocery model with kirana partners. The beta version of JioMart grocery platform is being piloted in 200 cities. Daily orders have crossed 2.5 lakh, and the number is growing each day," Ambani said.
Connecting farmers and delivering their fresh produce directly to homes is a key part of the firm''s grocery strategy. "This will significantly improve farmer income and incentivise higher productivity," he said.
More than two-thirds of Reliance Retails'' nearly 12,000 stores are operated in Tier II, Tier III and Tier IV towns. "It sources over 80 per cent of fruits and vegetable directly from farmers," he said.
With inputs from PTI
Disclosure: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.