After missing two self-imposed deadlines, the billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd has shelved a proposed deal to sell a 20 per cent stake in its oil refinery and petrochemical the business to Saudi Aramco for an asking of USD 15 billion as Reliance focuses on new energy business, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
"Due to evolving nature of Reliance's business portfolio, Reliance and Saudi Aramco have mutually determined that it would be beneficial for both parties to re-evaluate the proposed investment in O2C business in light of the changed context," the Indian firm said late Friday, adding that it will continue to be Saudi Aramco's "preferred partner" for investments in India's private sector.
Mukesh Ambani had in company's annual general meeting of shareholders in August 2019 announced talks to sell a 20 per cent in the oil-to-chemicals (O2C) business, which comprises its twin oil refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat, petrochemical assets and 51 per cent stake in fuel retailing joint venture with BP, to the world's largest oil exporter. It was to be the "biggest foreign investment in Reliance history".
At that time, he had announced the deal would close by March 2020. The deadline was missed and the company blamed pandemic controlling restrictions, imposed towards the end of March 2020, for hampering due diligence.
This year too, at the AGM, Mukesh Ambani stated that the deal would close by the end of the year. At the same event, he also announced new energy forays including a plan for developing one of the largest integrated renewable energy manufacturing facilities in the world.
The complex would consist of a solar photovoltaic module, battery, green hydrogen and fuel cell factories and cost ₹ 60,000 crore.
While new deadlines for Aramco deal and new energy forays were announced in the same breath, it wasn't clear what changed between June and now to site shifting focus for the "re-evaluation."