Categories Energy, Others, Technology

New energy, JioPhone Next grab limelight at Reliance AGM; Retail to grow 3X in 3-5 yrs

Despite the much-awaited announcement of the “world’s most affordable smartphone,” RIL shares slide on no mention of bonus issue or Future Group deal

It was the second year of virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) for Reliance Industries (NSE: RELIANCE), but the lack of live audience hardly took the sheen away from the event. Interestingly, CEO Mukesh Ambani took the longest duration to address its new energy mission, outlining the firm’s roadmap to become net carbon zero by 2035.

The event also witnessed the launch of the much-anticipated JioPhone Next 4G smartphone, developed jointly with Google. While the CEO refrained from giving out the actual cost of this device, he mentioned that it will be “the most affordable smartphone globally.” The device is set to hit markets by September 10 this year.

Meanwhile, shares of the multinational industrial conglomerate fell 2.6% for the day, as the company did not announce a bonus share or budget laptop as some analysts had predicted. Neither were there any updates provided on the troubled deal with Future Group.

Reliance AGM ambani.

JioPhone Next and 5G

Reliance didn’t disappoint with its affordable smartphone, a promise that Ambani made during the previous AGM. JioPhone Next will come with an optimized version of Android, and boasts of features including voice assistant, language translation, smart camera with augmented reality filters, automatic read aloud of screen text etc.

Bundled packages are likely to come along with the smartphone, which should considerably lift the number of Jio users in the coming quarters. Jio already has monthly traffic of over 630 crore gigabites and is claimed to be the first operator outside China to cross 400 million subscribers in a single country.

Jio’s future growth will also be spurred by an investment of over Rs 57,000 crore on the purchase of additional spectrum and another Rs 15,000 crore on network infrastructure. The management believes these investments have the capacity to onboard 200 million more customers to Jio network.

During the event that saw a surprise virtual participation by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Ambani outlined the firm’s partnership with the global tech giant outside the smartphone space. As part of the collaboration, Reliance is set to shift all of its core retail business to Google Cloud infrastructure, which will enable it to take advantage of its AI and machine learning capabilities to drive e-commerce.

Apart from this, Reliance will leverage Google’s cloud capabilities to power Jio’s 5G solutions. According to the CEO, Jio has tested 5G solutions and demonstrated speeds higher than 1 GB per second, expressing his confidence that Jio will be the first to roll-out the technology in India. Meanwhile, he did not give an estimated timeline for the same.

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New energy initiatives 

Oil-to-chemicals (O2C) continues to be a core business for the company, even as the global economy gradually trudges its way towards a more environmental-friendly ecosystem. Reliance had much earlier expressed its desire to shift more of its focus to green and new energy initiatives, though not much has been revealed yet.

During the AGM, the executive provided some updates, the most notable being the initiation of work on Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga complex – one of the largest integrated renewable energy facilities in the world – in Jamnagar. The first part of the plan is to build four giga factories – one each for integrated solar photovoltaic module; advanced energy storage battery, electrolyser and fuel cell. The whole project is estimated to cost a whopping Rs 75,000 crore, which will be self-funded.

“I am certain that India will present to the world a template of a green economy movement, which will truly be a people’s movement. I envision a future when our country will be transformed from a large importer of fossil energy to a large exporter of clean solar energy solutions,” Ambani said during the AGM.

The company also outlined its plans to utilize its new energy vision to make its legacy fossil fuel business more sustainable and carbon neutral.

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Reliance AGM 2

Retail and other announcements

Ambani expressed great confidence in the retail business, which he estimated would grow 3 times in the next 3-5 years. The company will continue to invest in its supply chain, and aims to be among the top 10 retailers globally. Interestingly, the unit’s e-commerce platform AJIO accounted for almost a quarter of all apparel sales, indicating rapid digitization efforts.

On the JioMart front, the company expects to onboard over 1 crore merchant partners and small shopkeepers over the next three years.

At the end of the day, Reliance’s AGM turned out to the usual show of strength and announcement of upcoming initiatives. The company’s partnerships with large global players including Saudi Aramco (whose chairman HE Yasir Al Rumayyan will join Reliance Board), Facebook, Google and Microsoft were repeatedly stressed during the 100-minute-long event. Now the wait begins for the sale of JioPhone Next.

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