RIL-Aramco deal on track, Ambani says committed to partnership

Delhi (IANS) The blockbuster deal involving the world's largest oil producer -- Aramco picking up a minority stake in refinery business of India's largest corporate house -- Reliance Industries (RIL), is on track as the two sides remain committed to a long term partnership, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the company's first virtual annual general meeting, Ambani said that due to unforeseen circumstances in the energy market, the deal (with Aramco) has not progressed as per original timeline. In the meanwhile, company's equity requirements have already been met.

"Nevertheless, we at Reliance value our over two-decade long relationship with Saudi Aramco and are committed to a long-term partnership," he said.

The RIL and Aramco deal has been in the works for some time and doubts were raised on its early completion due to Covid-19 outbreak and lockdowns.

The deal between Reliance and Aramco involves the Indian entity offering at least 20 per cent stake in a special purpose vehicle covering refining, petrochemicals and marketing. RIL board has already approved hiving-off its $75 billion O2C business into a separate entity. This is subject to approval of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

Ambani announced that the company will spin off its oil-to-chemical business into a separate subsidiary by early 2021 after regulatory approvals, and detailed plans of also moving into green energy space.

RIL is looking for investment to pare debt and focus on the expansion of its refining business. Besides, the investment will also give RIL assured supply of crude oil to its refineries. Aramco fits the bill as the company itself had indicated its desire to expand beyond Saudi Arabia and in particular invest in oil and gas space in India.

Though the size of the deal has not been worked out, analysts following the developments said that a stake sale up to 25 per cent in RIL refinery operations may fetch the company in excess of $15 billion.

The deal was earlier scheduled to close by March, 2020 but is now delayed and is expected to be completed this year.

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