Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of RIL.
Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of RIL.

RIL begins journey to zero net debt status with marginal reduction in liabilities in Q2

  • RIL’s Q2FY20 press statement said, its capex for the quarter ending September was 19,075 crore
  • The company has said Jio capex has dropped to 5,000 crore for the September quarter

Mumbai: Investors have their hawk eyes on Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL) debt, especially so after the company has guided to bring its consolidated net debt to zero in eighteen months.

On that front, there is some relief, point out analysts from Jefferies India Pvt. Ltd. “Strong standalone cashflow helped by a release in working capital from high contract liabilities left consolidated net liabilities 1,600 crore lower quarter-on-quarter on a like-for-like basis to US$36.1 billion," point out Jefferies in a report on 20 October.

What’s more, there is good news on the capital expenditure (capex), too. RIL’s Q2FY20 press statement said, its capex for the quarter ending September was 19,075 crore (or $2.7 billion). For perspective, this measure stood at 22,627 crore for the quarter ending June.

“Indeed, consolidated capex fell to near six-year lows of $2.7 billion and an even lower $2.3 billion adjusted for about 3,000 crore in forex losses," added Jefferies in its report.

It is encouraging that Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, RIL’s telecom subsidiary, has seen a moderation in its capex. The company has said Jio capex has dropped to 5,000 crore for the September quarter. For comparison, Jio capex was 8,500 crore for the June quarter.

After the post-results meeting with analysts, Centrum Broking, wrote, “The overall capex will sustain at this run rate of 17,500-19,000 crore per quarter for the second half of this financial year." This is sharply lower than quarterly averages of 25,000-26,000 crore over FY18-19, added Centrum in a report on 19 October.

Separately, RIL’s September quarter performance doesn’t disappoint with its consumer businesses, retail and telecom, firing strongly, boosting overall earnings. Consumer business contribution in overall consolidated Ebitda stood at 33% for the September quarter, up from 23% in the same period last year.

That said, investor focus will be on debt reduction by March 2021. “Our capex forecasts are even lower on average in FY20-22E (barring spectrum renewal) but find limited scope of meaningful organic free cash flow keeping net liabilities flattish in this period contrary to Reliance's guidance of a ~US$25bn fall by March 2021 (including Aramco)," said Jefferies.

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