In August 2019, the Chairman and frontman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani announced one of his most ambitious goals while taking to the stage at Mumbai’s Birla Matoshree Auditorium for addressing his shareholders. He mentioned that the company, which at the end of March 2019 had accrued debt of over Rs 1.5 lakh crore, would eventually have zero net debt by March 2021.
Today, which is almost nine months prior to his proposed target, Ambani announced that RIL has achieved the feat of becoming completely debt-free. In a statement regarding the same, he mentioned how he feels both delighted and humbled to have fulfilled the promise he made to the shareholders and stakeholders of RIL by exceeding their expectations yet again.
While the development may have taken some time and a lot more action might be happening for the last few months in this regards, but the ay it got unfolded by Ambani is no less than a surprise. It all started on April 22, when the company announced selling a 9.99 percent stake in Jio Platforms to social media giant Facebook on for a whopping Rs 43,573.62 crore.
After that, RIL went on an investment spree. In less than 2 months since that announcement, it raised over Rs 72,120 crore through stake sales in Jio Platforms to several investors such as Silver Lake Partners, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR, Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, TPG, L Catterton and The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Also, along with that, Reliance Industries’ rights issue of shares was subscribed 1.59 times and helped it raise an additional Rs 53,124 crore. Thus, all these collective efforts which went into its aggressive fundraising spree finally landed it in the debt-free zone at an amazingly accelerated pace.
Reliance has sold nearly 23% of Jio Platforms’s shares to raise the amount, which has raised the valuation of Jio Platforms to $85 billion, surprising enough for a startup formed just four years ago.
Oils To Telecom: Reliance Golden Decade
After the completion of this humongous goal, Ambani mentioned that Reliance is in its ‘golden decade’ wherein it will now try to set the bar even higher by setting more ambitious growth goals and achieving them.
While the past decade of Reliance has been mostly shaped by the traditional business forms such as oil refining and petrochemicals, it is no doubt that its future will be spearheaded by its consumer-focused and technology-driven businesses such as Reliance Jio, Reliance Retail, and Jio’s digital platforms. The company, as of right now, is also in talks with the largest retailer in the country Kishore Biyani’s Future Group for acquiring a stake in it.
One should also note that RIL has taken a huge leap forward in the O2O aka Offline-to-Online business category by recently launched JioMart which aims to connect local grocery shops to consumers. Although initially there were several consumer complaints about the quality and service, the company has since steadily started to iron out the problems.
Apart from that, there have been several rumours about Reliance’s plan to create a super app that might be somewhat similar to that of Alibaba as well.
Impending Hurdles For Reliance’s Ambitious Goals
Now, while it is true that Reliance is indeed in its golden decade, there are still some hurdles it needs to tactfully tackle. Currently, the Competition Commission of India is reviewing the Jio-Facebook deal. Several startups and venture capital firms have also raised data sharing-related concerns about the deal given to Facebook’s shady history and an extreme affinity for privacy violations in the past.
Nonetheless, now that Reliance has become debt-free, it will ensure massive tailwinds for both Reliance and Jio despite all the hurdles being they come across. Today morning, Reliance shares were up 1.6 percent at Rs 1,682. Also, over the past month, the stock happened to have rallied 19 percent, compared with a 13 percent rise in the BSE Sensex.
Now, it remains to be seen what newer and bolder plans are going to be unfolded by RIL under the strong leadership of Ambani from here on out. We will keep you posted on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.