A $4.5 billion investment from Google in Jio, an Android-run entry-level smartphone in partnership with the Google and an indigenous 5G network were among the major announcements made by Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, in the conglomerate's 43rd annual general meeting. These announcements came in a virtual-AGM, for the first time in its history, due to lockdown and social distancing norms as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.
These announcements were made on the back of record investments in the Jio platforms and after India's largest rights issue, which formed a part of India's largest capital raising exercise. Post Google's investment today in Jio, the company has raised ₹2,12,809 crores over the last four months.
Here are the top announcements made by Ambani.
1. An investment by Google in Jio
Google is investing $4.5 billion, or more than ₹33,000 crores for a 7.7 stake in Jio by Google. This is in addition to all the investments received by the company in its Jio platform.
This amount would be from a $10 billion commitment made by the company under the banner 'Google For India Digitization Fund'.
Ambani also announced that Jio would be partnering with Google to develop Android-based entry-level smartphones for India market that would be compatible with 4G, or even 5G networks. This was reiterated by Google through a release.
"Google and Jio Platforms have entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store. Together we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones", the company said.
2. A natively built 5G network
Ambani announced a locally built 5G network solution. "Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. It will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available and can be ready for field deployment next year", he said.
Akash Ambani, his son, announced that the full 5G stack built in India, and will be available for rollout as soon as spectrum is available.
As part of a more long-term vision, Ambani announced, "Once it is proven in India, Jio Platforms would be well positioned to be an exporter of 5G solutions to other telecom operators globally, as a complete managed service."
3. JioMart, JioGlass and Reliance Retail
Jio introduced a new products, the Jio Glass, that would enable users to have 3D holographic interactions with each other, and provided a demonstration for the same. The company would provide a cable to attach it to one's phone, and it would support 25 apps initially.
Jio's e-commerce and e-retail platform, JioMart, has been successfully piloted an intiative with kirana outlets with a multipurpose point-of-sale transaction system to help in payments and customer management. Further, they plan on expanding into healthcare, fashion, electronics and pharmaceuticals, going ahead.
Reliance Retail, their retails arm, on the other hand, is now among the 100 largest retailers in the world and is India's most profitable and fastest growing retailer.
4. Oil and petroleum announcements
Reliance also reaffirmed a partnership with British Petroleum announced earlier, which would translate into a joint venture with them, where BP would pay $1 billion for a 49% stake. Under this partnership, under the Reliance BP Mobility Limited, fuel retail would expand 5,500 outlets from the 1.400 presently.
During April this year, Ambani also said that Reliance's oil to chemical business accounted for 50% of India's exports.
Last year, the company had announced a strategic partnership by Saudi Aramco, where they were to buy a 20% stake in the oil-to-chemicals business for $15 billion. Ambani said that the investment has not taken off according to the original timeline. Reliance would approach the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to spin-off its O2C business to facilitate this.
5 Record capital raising
Reliance announced that Jio Platforms has raised a total of ₹1,52,056 crores from Facebook, six tech and financial investment firms, 3 sovereign wealth funds, Google, Intel and Qualcomm.
Earlier this year, Reliance concluded a rights issue of more than ₹53,000 crores.
The investments in Jio, through the rights issue, and that by British Petroleum has facilitated Reliance to raise a record ₹2,12,809 crores.
These investments have also let Reliance become net-debt free, much earlier than its target of March 2021.
Reliance Industries Limited closed at ₹1,844, 3.81% (or ₹71) down on the National Stock Exchange.
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