Friday, October 9, 2009

Mukesh Ambani: 'Money cannot create money

Post-bonus, Mukesh Ambani puts stock in society
After doling out a 1:1 bonus issue for shareholders just ahead of Diwali festivities
Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani is now looking to conquer new frontiers. His new business architecture will hope to tap into what he refers to as “societal gaps” in India to build sustainable, competitive business models. RIL may explore new business opportunities in health, education and affordable housing, though he confesses that he hasn’t figured out a way of making it work just as yet.

When asked if there was any truth in the buzz surrounding RIL’s global acquisition, Mr Ambani says that India has enough opportunities. India’s economy  which has touched the $1-trillion mark, was at an inflection point, and RIL’s emphasis would be to capture the opportunities which will arise as the economy grows. You can read between the lines: “It’s not about buying a big business abroad. How can you create something unique and add value by integrating the strength of India, its knowledge and talent,” he asks.

In an exclusive chat with ET NOW , Mr Ambani was candid. When pressed further on the next big thing from RIL, he’s upfront: “We will (continue) focusing on our existing sectors. We will look at filling societal gaps, at providing expertise and management and creating business models. We are looking at both organic and inorganic growth,” Mr Ambani said. So, if the markets are expecting a big-bang acquisition overseas, it may not be happening very soon.

Reliance’s announcement of a 1:1 bonus, which caught the markets by surprise, is intended to reward shareholders as the company completes a major cycle of value creation. A day after the announcement, a visibly relaxed and confident Mukesh Ambani emphasised that RIL had a long tradition of leaving something on the table for its shareholders. “We have gone through cycles of value creation at RIL. We have created an SEZ refinery which has added significantly to India’s exports and has proved that despite having no oil, we can still import the input and using complex technology export products (which are) competitive. The other piece was deepwater gas, where the world average from concept to production is 10 years. We have done this in a shorter period, and have strengthened the Indian economy,” Mr Ambani said.

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