Anil Ambani says RIL not keen on settlement

Anil Ambani says RIL not keen on settlement

Mumbai: Anil Ambani launched an attack on Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), controlled by his estranged elder brother Mukesh Ambani, during a televised meeting of shareholders of Reliance Power Ltd and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd, or RNRL.

RNRL, of which Anil Ambani is chairman, is fighting a court battle with RIL over the sale of gas from the latter’s field in the Krishna-Godavari basin. Anil Ambani claimed that RIL lacks the will to find an out-of-court settlement and is consistently frustrating his efforts to do so.

A spokeswoman for RIL declined comment on the issue.

Anil Ambani’s unexpected comments on a subject that is being heard by the courts took centre stage at a meeting where the focus was expected to be on shareholders of Reliance Power who were attending the first shareholder meeting after the company listed in February. Reliance Power sold shares in an initial public offering that raised Rs11,790 crore but the shares tanked on listing and the company had to cheer up investors by issuing free shares.

“For over two years, we tried to negotiate with RIL. More than 20 meetings were held...but to no avail. There was simply no will on the other side to uphold contractual obligations or honour one’s word," Anil Ambani said.

RNRL claims it has rights to 28 million standard cubic metres per day of gas for 17 years at $2.34 per million British thermal unit from the rich reserves that RIL has struck in the east coast river basin.

Anil Ambani added that besides this gas, RNRL had the first right to buy 40% of all additional gas production from existing as well as new gas discoveries made by RIL.

The lawsuit is being fought in the Bombay high court and will next be heard on 30 September.

Reliance Power’s plans

At the shareholder meeting, Anil Ambani said Reliance Power is “likely to achieve" financial closure for the Sasan thermal power project in Madhya Pradesh “by the end of this year". Funding for the Krishnapatnam project in Andhra Pradesh is expected later this year, he said.

The company has also qualified to bid for a power project at Tilaiya in Jharkhand. Each of these is a 4,000MW coal-fired project that requires an investment of Rs20,000 crore.

Reliance Power plans to spend $28 billion building 28,200MW of coal-fired and water-based electricity plants or 20% of India’s current generation capacity in the next eight years.

Parent Reliance Energy Ltd currently generates 941MW and plans to produce an additional 3,000MW from nuclear plants.

Shares of RNRL dipped 2.52% on Tuesday to close at Rs79.15 each in a bearish market that saw the bellwether Sensex index close 3.03% lower. RIL’s shares closed 1.35% lower at Rs2,009.75 each.

Shares of Reliance Power ended the day at Rs160.05 each or 0.59% lower, almost one-third of the price it listed at.