RIL gears up for new businesses, mega investment plans

RIL gears up for new businesses, mega investment plans

New Delhi: Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani is expected to announce a slew of new business initiatives, through multiple partnerships and potential acquisitions, when he addresses the company’s shareholders this Friday.

At RIL’s 37th annual general meeting, Ambani may unveil a roadmap for the company’s foray into new areas like financial services, telecom and power, as also the expansion of its existing businesses like energy, textiles and retail.

Informed sources said Ambani is likely to focus on new partnerships for various ventures, including RIL’s proposed entry into financial services business in which it would rope in about half a dozen partners.

As of now, global private equity firm DE Shaw has been roped in but the entire gamut of financial services business would not be conducted through this partnership alone.

DE Shaw is involved in a court battle over its investment in the print media company Amar Ujala and the deal is also facing multiple probes, including by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government departments like FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board).

Sources said that DE Shaw has been acquired in mostly for the purpose of getting technical know-how of integrating information technology with the financial products.

RIL, which is looking to bring in fourth-generation (4G) telecom services into the country, plans to offer financial service products on a broadband platform and the DE Shaw tie-up would come in handy on this front.

The group is already talking to about half a dozen global majors in financial services segment and some announcements are likely in this regard on 3 June.

For the probable partners, names like American Express are doing the rounds. Besides, global names like Verizon, AT&T, France Telecom and Alcatel Lucent are being speculated as possible partners for the telecom venture, although there is no official word as yet.

The group’s proclamation, through Mukesh Ambani’s letter to shareholders in the annual report for 2010-11, about its intention to bring on board new partners of international scale continues to give rise to speculations about the possible partners.

Accordingly, expectations have grown for the AGM to be held at Birla Matushri auditorium in south Mumbai, which has been hosting RIL’s annual shareholder meet for many years now with packed-to-wall presence and a long queue starts building up since early morning for the 11 am meeting.

At last year’s AGM, Ambani had announced his intention to double RIL’s enterprise value from $80 billion in less than a decade and the shareholders at this year’s meeting would look for progress made on this front.