Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani has announced a Rs 75,000 crore investment in clean energy over three years, pinned hope on concluding a USD 15 billion deal with Saudi Aramco this year and unveiled the much-awaited low-priced JioPhone Next co-developed with Google as he unveiled the growth agenda for Reliance Industries.
Reliance will build four ‘Giga factories’ to make solar cells, batteries for energy storage, making fuel cells and producing green hydrogen in Gujarat, Reliance chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said at the company’s annual general meeting with shareholders.
The oil-to-telecom conglomerate, which owns the world’s biggest oil refining complex, will also set up 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power generation capacity by 2030 and invest in setting up a carbon fibre plant.
Ambani said Saudi Aramco chairman and head of the Kingdom’s cash-rich wealth fund PIF Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, 51, will join the board of Reliance as an independent director.
This is a precursor to a deal to sell a 20 per cent stake in the company’s oil-to-chemical unit, which houses the group’s oil refineries, petrochemical plants and fuel retailing business, to Saudi Aramco.
“We look forward to welcoming Saudi Aramco as a strategic partner in our O2C business,” he said. “I expect our partnership to be formalised in an expeditious manner during this year, after obtaining required regulatory clearances.”
The deal was initially expected to be concluded by March 2020 and valued at USD 15 billion.
Over the past years, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate has segregated businesses into separate verticals – Jio Platforms houses the company’s digital and telecom unit, retail is a separate unit, and oil refining and petrochemical segments have been carved into the O2C vertical to attract strategic partnerships.
In the last one year, Al-Rumayyan’s PIF has invested billions of dollars in Reliance ventures.
In June last year, PIF bought a 2.32 per cent stake in Reliance’s digital unit Jio Platforms for Rs 11,367 crore. Five months later, it picked up a 2.04 per cent stake in Reliance’s retail venture for Rs Rs 9,555 crore. PIF has also invested Rs 3,779 crore in an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT), Digital Fibre Infrastructure Trust (DFIT) that holds Reliance’s fibre-optic assets.
Ambani, 64, also unveiled an affordable handset co-developed with Google to accelerate 2G to 4G migration but did not disclose the price.
“An ultra-affordable 4G smartphone is essential to make India ‘2G-mukt’ (free of 2G),” he said, outlining the capabilities of the device that will run a re-engineered version of the Android operating system.
The country still has nearly 300 million mobile users, who are unable to escape from inefficient and exorbitant 2G services since most basic 4G smartphones remain unaffordable for users, he added.
Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai joined remotely to say that the JioPhone was “built for India” and would deliver translation features, a voice assistant and a great camera.
The handset will be available from September 10, ahead of the country’s peak shopping and gifting season.