Will the Chairman of Saudi Aramco join RIL’s board? Wait for mega AGM
Saudi Aramco Chairman Governor of the Kingdom’s wealth fund — Public Investment Fund (PIF) — Yasir Al-Rumayyan may be inducted on the board of Reliance Industries (RIL). This is a precursor to a $15-billion deal, said reports.
An announcement of Al-Rumayyan’s induction on the RIL board or the board of the newly carved oil-to-chemical (O2C) unit may come as early June 24 at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
“RIL’s annual general meeting (AGM) has historically been a keenly watched event (previously attended by 3,000 shareholders when held in physical format last year saw 300,000 concurrent viewers of the virtual AGM across 42 countries 468 cities), given that it has been one of the top 3 companies by market capitalisation in India, has a large free float, a large public shareholding (more than 3 million non-institutional shareholders),” brokerage HSBC Global Research said in a report. Expectations are already built up for the AGM.
“Over the past year, new investors have joined RIL’s digital retail business at a subsidiary level RIL has formed new partnerships with global players like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Qualcomm, etc. Investors now expect RIL to give direction to these businesses announce ground-breaking products,” it said, adding reports suggest it will likely announce a new smartphone partnered with Google its pricing.
“There is also expectation of some update on Saudi Aramco deal speculation that the chairman of Saudi Aramco may join RIL’s board,” it said.
Both RIL Saudi Aramco did not reply to emails sent for comments. An email sent to PIF, too, remained unanswered. PIF has already picked up minority stake in Reliance Retail Jio.
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani had in August 2019 announced talks for the sale of 20 per cent stake in the O2C business, which comprises its twin oil refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat petrochemical assets, to the world’s largest oil exporter.
The deal was to conclude by March 2020, but has been delayed for reasons not disclosed by either company.
Talks have revived this year the two are reportedly discussing a cash share deal — Aramco paying for the stake with its shares initially then staggered cash payments over several years.
In a separate report, BofA Securities said RIL’s AGM each year has turned into a key event where Ambani provides more information on the outlook of key business divisions.
“Historically we have seen major announcements on phones, tariffs, stake-sales, etc,” it said.
The deal to sell stake in the O2C business to Aramco, too, was announced at RIL AGM in 2019.
“We expect an update on Jio-Google phone features (like 5G), potential pricing, timeline,” it added.
Clarity on JioMart/other online commerce businesses, along with the JioMart-WhatsApp integration, is also expected.
Reports suggest RIL may announce the appointment of Al-Rumayyan on its board at the AGM, it said.
RIL may introduce a new affordable laptop to tap into the massive demfor work-from-home machines.
Besides refineries petrochemical plants, the O2C business also comprises 51 per cent stake in the fuel retailing business. It, however, does not include the upstream oil gas producing assets, such as the flagging KG-D6 block in the Bay of Bengal.
RIL had in 2019 ascribed $75 billion as the value of the O2C business after signing a non-binding letter of intent with Saudi Aramco.
The firm had recently announced carving out the O2C business as a separate subsidiary to support strategic partnerships new investors to accelerate its new energy material plans.
Digital business is already held by subsidiary Jio Platforms Reliance Retail holds the offline online retail business.
Aramco buying 20 per cent in the O2C business will allow RIL to build financial muscle as it carves out space for itself in a highly competitive omnichannel retail.
Aramco not only has stake in one of the world’s best refineries largest integrated petrochemical complex. It also has access to one of the fastest-growing markets, a ready-made market for 500,000 barrels per day of its Arabian crude, offering a potentially bigger downstream role in the future.
RIL’s refineries are one of the most complex in the world, allowing it to earn a significant premium to the benchmark Singapore gross refining margin. Its petrochemical complexes rank among the biggest in the world, whose dependency on outside raw materials is minimal.
It has leadership positions both in the domestic polymer polyester markets.
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