Reliance Industries on Wednesday announced plans to invest $30 billion or Rs 1.8 lakh crore in the three years ending March 2017, a 20 per cent rise from its spending budget for the period announced last year.
While the investments straddle all the business segments of the group, the allocation for Reliance Jio Infocomm — the 4G broadband initiative of the group — will account for Rs 70,000 crore, nearly 40 per cent of it.
RIL chairman, Mukesh Ambani, addressing shareholders at the 40thAnnual General Meeting of the group on Wednesday, described it as “one of the most transformational initiatives” of the company. “The year 2015 will see the phased launch of Reliance Jio across India,” he said.
In his speech Ambani claimed that the investment plan is three-fourths of Rs 2.4 lakh crore that it has invested over the last 37 years, counting from the time it was listed.
Even as the company has embarked on a big investment plan, markets were not enthused and shares of RIL slipped by 2.1 per cent on Wednesday to close at Rs 1,066.8 on the BSE, in sync with the broader market, which too ended in the red by 1.08 per cent.
“We are currently at the mid-point of the largest investment programme in Reliance’s history. The next two years, 2014-15 and 2015-16, will see us focussed on executing and progressively bringing these projects on-stream in petrochemicals, refining, retail and Jio,” said Ambani.
He added that the 2016-17 will be the first full year when the full benefits of the investments made would be available to “shareholders, consumers and the society”.
RIL, currently ranked 135 on the Fortune 500 list of global companies, “wants to break into the top 50”, Ambani said.
On the dispute over whether the price of natural gas should be raised, Ambani in response to a question said, “We are here to win trust and we will win this with truth and transparency. I want to assure you that we are a mature corporation… I am a big believer that we should work with people who have different views than us, convince them that what we are doing is right”.
But, earlier in his speech, he also underscored the need for a quick decision by the government on the price of gas. “Timely regulatory approvals and market-based gas prices are the key to developing these resources.”