Asia’s richest man moves to internationalise his company

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 Asia’s richest man moves to internationalise his company
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Asia’s richest man – billionaire Mukesh Ambani – has announced the appointment of Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of Saudi Aramco and Governor of Public Investment Fund (PIF), to the board of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).


"His joining our Board is also the beginning of internationalisation of Reliance," he said at the 44th annual general meeting of RIL. A Harvard graduate, Mr Al-Rumayyan is the Governor of Public Investment Fund (PIF) since May 2019. He was appointed chairman of the board of Saudi Aramco in September 2019.

Even as Mr Ambani hailed his appointment as “the beginning of internationalisation” for RIL, many experts believe that the process for that had begun long time back. In what was seen as a bid to make the company net-debt free, RIL’s digital arm Jio Platforms had raised a combined of INR1.5 trillion (US$20.5 billion) from a series of mega investments into various firms, which included global tech giants like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL).

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) – governed by Al-Rumayyan – had invested INR 113.67 billion (approximately US$1.5 billion) in Reliance Jio for an equity stake of 2.32% last year. Few months later, it invested INR95.55 billion (about US$1.3 billion) into Reliance Retail – the retail arm of RIL – for an equity stake of 2.04%.

Not only that, RIL had entered a deal with Saudi Aramco in 2019, according to which Saudi oil was set to take a 20% stake in RIL’s US$75 billion worth oil and chemicals business. Mr Ambani had said that the deal was expected to be completed by the March 2020.

Going green

Historically seen as an oil-to-chemical major, with huge reliance on crude oil and non-renewable product, Mr Ambani launched the company’s bid for going green at the AGM on Thursday. As part of the plan, the company will invest INR 600 billion (about US$8 billion) in its new green energy business during next three years. Through this investment, the company will set up four units called ‘giga factories' in Gujarat's Jamnagar – the home to one of the company’s most famous oil refineries. The company said that it aims to contribute 100 giga watt of solar energy by the end of 2030.

RIL is India’s most valuable firm in terms of market capitalisation and Mukesh Ambani and his family – directly and through various privately held companies – control 50.58% of its shareholding and 48.94% of its voting rights. His massive holding in RIL has propelled Mr Ambani to the status of Asia’s richest man – worth US$81.9 billion.

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