Home >Companies >News >300,000 shareholders from 41 nations attend Reliance’s first virtual AGM

MUMBAI : Annual shareholders’ meetings of Reliance Industries Ltd are no less than a great Indian wedding, with thousands of investors travelling from afar to catch a glimpse of managing director and chairman Mukesh Ambani, family matriarch Kokilaben and the next generation of the family.

However, this time, Mumbai’s Birla Matoshri auditorium, where RIL’s annual general meetings (AGM) are generally held, remained empty as the company hosted its 43rd AGM virtually, its first such meeting due to covid-19.

Though the virtual presentation, beamed on JioMeet and social media platforms, was seamless, what was clearly missing was the applause from shareholders.

Clad in a white shirt, red-and-white checkered tie and formal black suit, Ambani welcomed shareholders with a restrained smile.

Ambani said he was overwhelmed by the number of shareholders who logged into the AGM.

However, “I miss direct interaction with my shareholders. I hope next year I can meet you once again through both in physical and virtual platforms," Ambani said.

More than 300,000 shareholders from 473 cities and 41 countries attended the virtual AGM. According to stock exchange filings, RIL had close to 2.63 million retail shareholders as of 31 March.

Thunderous applause, standing ovations and whistles of enthusiasm make the RIL AGM a grand spectacle every year. It is not that the latest AGM was short on applause-worthy announcements—including a big investment by Google, introduction of a fancy device, the Jio Glass, and a entry into 5G.

“These are difficult times, no doubt, for India and the world because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, never have I felt more optimistic in my life about a bright future for India, and for Reliance," said Ambani.

Ambani’s son and daughter, Akash and Isha Ambani, are typically greeted with the loudest applause when they take the stage. This time, when Akash and Isha presented the business plan for Jio’s digital business and Jio Mart’s launch, there was only muted cheer.

Kokilaben in a pink saree was seen sitting beside Akash, cheering most of the announcements.

There were some speakers in the AGM from abroad too. And why not? Reliance has just clinched deals with both Google and Facebook.

Facebook chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke directly to shareholders.

“India is a special place for us, it’s home to the largestcommunities around the world on Facebook and WhatsApp, and there are a lot oftalented entrepreneurs," said Zuckerberg.

“Our investment of $4.5 billion in Jio is the first—and the biggest—investment we will make through this fund. I am excited that our joint collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of Indians who don’t currently own a smartphone... while improving the mobile experience for all," said Pichai.

There were earnest suggestions from some shareholders. One said Ambani should be awarded the Bharat Ratna for his noble work during covid-19 pandemic. Another requested Ambani to save India’s youth from alcoholism.

Ambani ended his AGM speech by thanking the central and state governments, shareholders, investors, lenders, suppliers and customers for their consistent and resolute support.

“For all of us at Reliance, the source of inspiration is Swami Vivekananda, who said: ‘Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached," he said.

nasrin.s@livemint.com

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