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Mukesh Ambani aims to turn RIL into zero net debt firm by Dec

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Nandita Malik
May 01, 2020 22:27 IST
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Thanks to a $5.7 billion deal with Facebook, a Rs 53,125 crore rights issue and more stake sale to companies such as Saudi Aramco, the target is likely to be achieved by December.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani has accelerated the timeframe for wiping out Rs 1.61 lakh crore of net debt at his Reliance Industries by bringing in strategic investors in key businesses as well as committing more equity.

Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), had in August last year set a target of March 2021 to make the oil-to-telecom conglomerate net debt-free.

 

But thanks to a $5.7 billion (Rs 43,547 crore) deal with Facebook, a Rs 53,125 crore rights issue and more stake sale to companies such as Saudi Aramco, the target is likely to be achieved by December.

In an investor and media call post announcement of the company's fourth-quarter earnings, RIL's Joint Chief Financial Officer Srikanth Venkatachari said, "The zero net debt target will be achieved within the 2020 calendar year."

Since the August announcement, Ambani has sold a 9.99 per cent stake in the digital platform that houses India's youngest but biggest mobile operator to Facebook, decided to hive out Reliance's oil and petrochemicals business into a separate entity to help a proposed stake sale to Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Saudi Aramco), and pledged to make up for any shortfall in the rights issue.

The company expects to complete a capital raising programme totalling Rs 1.04 lakh crore by June, Venkatachari said.

This includes the rights offering of one share for every 15 shares held at Rs 1,257, a 14 per cent discount to the closing price for April 30.

Also included is the Rs 43,574 crore coming from the Facebook buying stake in Jio Platforms and Rs 7,000 crore from sale of 49 per cent stake in fuel retailing venture to UK's BP plc.

"In addition, Saudi Aramco due diligence is progressing well," he said without saying when the deal was expected to be closed.

Reliance values its oil-to-chemical business, which includes its twin refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat, petrochemical assets, and 51 per cent stake in auto fuel and aviation fuel retailing venture, at $75 billion. Saudi Aramco is in talks to buy a 20 per cent stake in this venture.

Alongside announcing the zero net debt target, Ambani, 63, had in August also announced the potential sale of 20 per cent interest in the oil-to-chemical business to Aramco by March 2020.

That deadline has been missed partly because of differences over the deal structure and partly due to talks stalling following the outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent nationwide lockdown.

At the end of March quarter, the company had an outstanding debt of Rs 336,294 crore and cash in hand of Rs 175,259 crore.

After adjusting cash, the net debt came to Rs 161,035 crore.

Of this debt, Rs 2,62,000 crore is on RIL books and Rs 23,000 crore is with Jio.

At the concall, company officials said Jio Platforms will retain Rs 14,976 crore out of Rs 43,574 crore received from Facebook and use the remaining Rs 28,598 crore to settle the debt.

The Facebook-Jio Platforms deal will close by the end of the current quarter.

Also, the company said it has received interest from new potential global strategic and financial investors in taking a stake of similar size to Facebook's agreement in the Jio Platform.

"In addition to the FB investment, the board was informed that RIL has received strong interest from other strategic and financial investors and is in good shape to announce a similar-sized investment in the coming months," the company had said in a statement on Thursday.

"With a strong visibility to these equity infusions, the board was informed that RIL is set to achieve net-zero debt status ahead of its own aggressive timeline," it had said.

Photograph: PTI Photo

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Nandita Malik© Copyright 2022 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 

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