Billionaire Mukesh Ambani on Monday announced a Rs 2.75 lakh crore investment plan to expand and diversify his $221 billion-empire by rolling out 5G services from October, adding capacity in the core oil and chemical business and taking on rival Gautam Adani with a foray into FMCG sector.
Ambani, 65, also identified the businesses his three children will lead in clear signs of succession planning at India’s most valuable company.
Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the telecom arm of the oil-to-retail conglomerate, will deploy a “standalone 5G” version which is not dependent on the previous 4G network, to deliver ultra-fast internet connectivity beginning with four metro cities by Diwali and the entire country by December 2023, he said at company’s annual shareholder meeting.
The firm is investing Rs 2 lakh crore for the 5G rollout.
Also read: Mukesh Ambani details Reliance succession plan: Retail to Isha, energy to Anant
At the same AGM, his daughter, Isha, who he identified as the leader of the retail business, announced the company’s foray into the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry.
Reliance Retail, India’s largest retailer with 15,196 stores selling groceries to high-end fashion and lifestyle items, will take on a rival group headed by Gautam Adani, who has in recent months raced past Mukesh Ambani to become the nation’s richest man.
Adani Wilmar, which manufactures edible oil to packaged food items, is India’s largest FMCG company ahead of HUL.
Ambani said Reliance will partner with Qualcomm Inc to provide cloud-based 5G network solutions for businesses, and with Meta Platform Inc to integrate his group’s online shopping platform JioMart on WhatsApp, to allow users to browse and purchase groceries and other household products without leaving the popular messaging app.
It also announced a foray into private 5G networks.
Reliance will invest Rs 75,000 crore in expanding capacities in the core petrochemical and oil business, Ambani said.
It will add a fifth Giga Factory of power electronics in addition to the four Giga Factories for solar panels, energy storage, electrolysers and fuel cells announced last year.
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Ambani, who built Reliance into India’s largest company by market value, has been diversifying the powerhouse conglomerate beyond its fossil fuel-led businesses and towards technology and renewable energy.
At the 45th annual general meeting of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), he laid bare the succession plan, identifying twins Akash and Isha, for telecom and retail leadership, and youngest son Anant for the new energy unit.
He, however, insisted he isn’t retiring yet and will “continue to provide hands-on leadership as before”.
He said the “robust architecture” being created will ensure that Reliance “remains a united, well-integrated and secure institution” that “more than doubles its value by the end of its Golden Decade in 2027.”
Announcing foray into the FMCG industry, Isha said the firm is looking to “develop and deliver high quality, affordable products, which solve every Indian’s daily needs.”
In the first phase, Reliance will be working with some of the strong heritage brands in the FMCG domain, including staples, food and beverages, home and personal care and beauty categories. It will help contemporize the brands and scale their business across India, and globally.
Also, it will forge strategic partnerships through tie-ups and acquisitions to reduce time to market, to build manufacturing capabilities and to expand distribution penetration.
Read | Reliance Jio to roll out 5G in 4 key cities by Diwali
Reliance will also look at transforming its private labels to consumer brands, with improved quality, packaging, and communication through a focused approach.
The company will also consider strategic investments to expand the category portfolio through M&A.
Reliance Jio – India’s largest telecom operator – was the biggest buyer in this year’s spectrum auctions to develop a 5G network.
Jio 5G service “will connect everyone, every place and everything with the highest quality and most affordable data,” he said. “It will be the world’s largest and most advanced 5G network.”
He, however, did not give details on the pricing.
In the core oil and petrochemical business, Reliance will invest Rs 75,000 crore in the next five years in setting up a PTA plant, expanding polyester capacity, tripling the capacity of a vinyl chain and a chemical unit in the UAE.
Announcing the new Giga Factory for Power Electronics, Ambani said, “One of the key components linking the entire value chain of green energy is affordable and reliable power electronics.”
Power electronics are the components and equipment necessary to convert the electrical current from one form into another (from DC to AC or vice versa) in usable form to meet specific customer application requirements using static power semiconductors. They typically include inverters, converters and rectifiers of different capacities, sizes and shapes.