At RIL AGM, Ambani sets Diwali date for 5G launch & rolls out succession plan

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. He also revealed that capacity in the core oil and chemical business would be expanded and disclosed the conglomerate’s plan of foraying into fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. 

Mr Ambani, 65, also identified the businesses his three children would lead in clear signs of succession planning at India’s most valuable company. 

Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecom arm of the oil-to-retail conglomerate, would deploy a “standalone 5G” version, which was not dependent on the previous 4G network, to deliver ultra-fast internet connectivity. The launch would happen in four metro cities by Diwali and the entire country by December 2023, Mr Ambani said at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting. The firm is investing Rs 2 lakh crore for the 5G rollout. 

At the same annual general meeting (AGM), his daughter, Isha, whom he identified as the leader of the retail business, announced the company’s foray into the FMCG industry. 

Reliance Retail, the country’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 Mr 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. 

Mr Ambani disclosed that Reliance would partner with Qualcomm to provide cloud-based 5G network solutions for businesses and with Meta Platform 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. 

Reliance would invest Rs 75,000 crore in expanding capacities in the core petrochemical and oil business, Mr Ambani said. 

It would 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. 

Mr 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 AGM of RIL, he laid bare the succession plan, identifying twins Akash and Isha, for telecom and retail leadership respectively, and youngest son Anant for the new energy unit. Mr Ambani, however, insisted he was not retiring yet and would “continue to provide hands-on leadership as before”.

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