India's Reliance plans to list its financial services unit to boost growth

Jio Financial Services is positioned to capture opportunities in the financial services sector, company's billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani says

Reliance Industries reported a nearly 10.8 per cent annual drop in its first-quarter profit.  Reuters
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Reliance Industries, the Indian conglomerate controlled by its billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani, expects to soon list shares of its recently carved-out financial services business to boost growth.

“The new entity is expected to unlock value for shareholders and give them an opportunity to be a part of a new growth platform,” Mr Ambani said in the company’s annual report for the financial year that ended on March 31.

Last month, the company renamed Reliance Strategic Investments as Jio Financial Services (JFS).

“Jio Financial Services aims to provide simple, affordable and innovative digital-first solutions,” Mr Ambani said.

The company offers a range of financial services for consumers and merchants using technology.

The unit is “positioned uniquely to capture the growth opportunities in the financial services sector and play a crucial role in transforming the landscape of digital finance in India,” he said in his message to investors.

India is adopting digital finance at “an unprecedented pace” and the “growth opportunities presented by financial services are remarkable and provide a strong directional support to the economy”, Mr Ambani said.

Reliance is betting on the continued rise in digital payments sector in Asia's third-largest economy, amid robust growth of mobile phone usage in the country that has boosted demand for online payments and other services.

Mr Ambani is known for launching ventures and transforming companies. Over the past few years, he has managed to turn Reliance into consumer services conglomerate from its traditional crude oil refining and petrochemicals sector businesses.

Last month, JFS and New York-listed BlackRock, the world's biggest asset manager, agreed to form a Joint Venture to enter India’s asset management industry.

Jio BlackRock, a 50:50 joint venture combines the “respective strengths and trusted brands of BlackRock and JFS to deliver tech-enabled access to affordable, innovative investment solutions for millions of investors in India,” the companies said at the time.

JFS and BlackRock are targeting an initial investment of $150 million each in the joint venture, they said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange, where shares of Reliance are traded.

Reliance will also continue to monitor financial markets for the right opportunity to raise capital to support growth plans of existing and new businesses while maintaining focus on financial discipline and risk management, according to the company's annual report.

Reliance expects global oil demand to remain healthy on steady economic growth, while new fuel supply from upcoming refining capacities in the Middle East, China and Africa will be likely to keep the market balanced, it said.

Demand for polymer, a key product from its oil-to-chemicals business, is expected to remain strong, driven mainly by growth in e-commerce, packaging, durables, automotive and infrastructure segments.

Strong demand is also likely to continue for pipe sectors backed by infrastructure projects, it added.

The company said it also achieved first green hydrogen production with the successful firing of “torrefied biomass in gasifiers”, during the financial year. Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy.

Reliance reported a nearly 10.8 per cent annual drop in its first-quarter profit because of a sluggish performance of its petrochemicals and refining business. The company's fiscal year starts in April.

Net profit attributable to the owners of the company in the three months ending in June dropped to 160.1 billion rupees ($1.95 billion), Mumbai-based Reliance said on July 21.

Updated: August 07, 2023, 3:31 AM