Yasir Othmann Al Rumayyan, Chairman of Saudi Aramco and governor of the kingdom's wealth fund, PIF, has been inducted into the board of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries (RIL), triggering hopes that the Aramco-RIL deal could be sealed this year.
At the Reliance Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, Chairman Mukesh Ambani said that Al Rumayyan will join the board of RIL as an independent director.
"Delighted To Welcome Saudi Aramco Chairman On Reliance Industries Board," Mukesh Ambani said at the 44th Annual General Meeting of Reliance Industries.
"He [Yasir Al Rumayyan] is one of the most renowned names in energy finance and technology globally. I am sure that we will immensely benefit from his rich experience with one of the world's largest companies, and also one of the largest Sovereign Wealth Funds in the world," Ambani said.
During the RIL AGM in 2019, Ambani announced talks for the sale of a 20 percent stake in the oil-to-chemicals (O2C) business which comprises its twin oil refineries at Jamnagar in Gujart and petrochemical assets to Aramco.
However, the deal did not go through after demand and prices crashed in 2020 due to the pandemic. O2C is a very important business for the Indian conglomerate and it contributed about 60 percent of RIL's revenue in the year-ended March.
"Talks have revived this year and the two are reportedly discussing a cash and share deal, with Aramco paying for the stake with its shares initially and then staggered cash payments over several years," The Times of India reported on Thursday.
According to financial daily Business Standard, Mukesh Ambani expects to seal the RIL-Aramco deal this year.
"Our O2C biz faced unprecedented challenges by severe economic contraction at the beginning of the year. Yet we were probably the only company globally that operated at near full capacity and was profitable in every quarter," Business Standard quoted Ambani as saying.
"Continued engagement and resolve from both sides, even during this pandemic, is a testimony of strong relationship between Saudi Aramco and Reliance. I expect our partnership to be formalised in an expeditious manner this year," he added.
Last year, PIF, invested $1.3 billion for a 2.04 percent stake in Reliance Retail Ventures.
According to Forbes, Mukesh Ambani is the richest person in Asia with a net worth of $87.4 billion and the 10th richest person in the world, as of 15 June 2021.
(Reporting by Seban Scaria; editing by Anoop Menon)
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