The Reliance petrochemicals
No more debts to carry... Reliance Industries confirms it has gone zero-debt ahead of plans. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Mumbai: Reliance Industries has become net debt-free ahead of its March 2021 target.

The energy-to-telecom conglomerate raised more than 1.75 trillion rupees ($23 billion) through new investments into its digital assets unit, rights issue of shares and a stake sale to BP Plc, Reliance Industries said in an exchange filing Friday. Its net debt was 1.6 trillion rupees on March 31.

In recent weeks, a host of blue-chip funds and corporate entities have signed up for Reliance ands telecom and e-retailing portal, Jio. This includes Abu Dhabi's Mubadala as well as Facebook.

"It's an amazing lockdown achievement," said Chakri Lokapriya, chief investment officer at TCG Asset Management. "The move tells investors that Reliance is transforming the company's growth engine to a technology platform."

Reliance said Friday that it had racked up net debt of 1.6 trillion rupees as of March, most of it for rolling out its wireless carrier, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which became India's biggest within three years of its 2016 debut. Shares of Reliance rose as much as 2% in Mumbai to a record on Friday, giving it a market value of $144 billion.

"I am both delighted and humbled to announce that we have fulfilled our promise," Ambani said in the statement.

Instant reaction

Indian shares rose on Friday and were on course to finish the week higher, boosted by a jump in Reliance shares after the conglomerate said it had become net-debt free.

Shares of Reliance rose as much as 2 per cent in Mumbai to a record on Friday, giving it a market value of $144 billion.

Ambani, who made a pledge to shareholders in August to slash the group's net debt to zero within 18 months, went on a fundraising spree starting late April, defying lockdowns sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

After a planned $15 billion stake sale in his oil business to Saudi Arabian Oil Co. stalled, he set out to prove skeptics wrong by luring partners to Jio Platforms Ltd., a technology venture he's using to pivot his empire toward e-commerce and digital payments, away from its legacy oil-and-petrochemicals business.