Reliance Industries Q2 net falls 15 pc on weak oil business



Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd on Friday reported a 15 per cent drop in second-quarter net profit after the pandemic-hit oil demand dragged down continued good showing in consumer-facing businesses such as telecom.

Consolidated net profit attributable to owners at Rs 9,567 crore in July-September compared with Rs 11,262 crore a year back, Reliance said in a stock exchange filing.

A plunge in fuel demand after the raging pandemic forced people to stay home and stifled the economy, dealt a body blow to the firm's traditional cash cow oil refining and petrochemicals, consumer-facing businesses, which account for 35 per cent of the oil-to-telecom-to-retail conglomerate's revenues, continued to do well.

Its digital services, which includes the telecom arm Jio, saw standalone net profit swell to Rs 2,844 crore in the second quarter of current fiscal (April 2020 to March 2021) from Rs 990 crore a year back.

This after the four-year-old Jio's subscriber base grew to 406 million, the largest in India.

Net addition of 7.3 million subscribers and per-user revenue rising to Rs 145 helped the telecom business soar.

The gradually 'unlock' that has seen markets and malls reopen helped the company's retail business recover with almost flat revenue and a 14 per cent lower EBITDA of Rs 2,009 crore.

Reliance said 85 per cent of its retail stores were open as of second quarter. It added 232 stores to take the total to 11,931 stores.

Ambani raised an unprecedented Rs 2.5 lakh crore since April from the sale of stake in the digital and retail units and a rights issue. Of this, over Rs 1.76 lakh crore has already flowed into the company, helping it achieve net-zero debt status.

Petrochemicals revenue fell 23 per cent to Rs 29,665 crore and pre-tax profit dropped 33 per cent at Rs 5,964 crore.

Refining EBITA almost halved to Rs 3,002 crore as revenue slumped 36 per cent.

The firm's twin refineries earned USD 5.7 per barrel on turning every barrel of crude oil into fuel, as compared to a gross refining margin (GRM) of USD 9.4 per barrel last year.

The profit in Q2 was lower sequentially as well as the April-June earning of Rs 13,248 crore included a one-time gain of Rs 7,629 crore from sale of 49 per cent stake in petro retailing business to BP.

Investors such as Facebook, Google and global private equity funds have picked up a cumulative 32.96 per cent stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 1.52 lakh crore. All the deals, except Google, have been completed, bringing Rs 1.18 lakh crore into the company.

Another Rs 37,710 crore was raised from the sale of an 8.48 per cent stake in its retail unit. Of this, Rs 7,500 crore has come in and the rest Rs 30,210 crore is pending.

Besides, the company had raised Rs 52,124 crore through a rights issue and another Rs 7,629 crore from sale of 49 per cent in fuel retail business to BP. Of the rights issue, Rs 13,275 crore has already come in, and the remaining Rs 39,849 crore is due next year. All of the BP money has been paid.

The firm had a gross debt of Rs 279,251 crore as of September 30, down from Rs 336,294 crore in the previous quarter. After considering Rs 185,711 crore of cash and Rs 30,210 crore received from stake sale deals that have closed and another Rs 73,586 crore pending from the strategic investors, the firm had a surplus of Rs 10,250 crore.

Commenting on the results, Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said, "We delivered strong overall operational and financial performance compared to the previous quarter with recovery in petrochemicals and retail segment and sustain growth in the digital services business."

"Domestic demand has sharply recovered across our oil-to-chemical (O2C) business and is now near the pre-Covid level for most products. Retail business activity has normalised with strong growth in key consumption baskets as lockdown ease across the country," he said.

With large capital raise in the last six months across Jio and retail business, several strategic and financial investors have joined the Reliance family, he added.

"We continue to pursue growth initiatives in each of our businesses with a focus on the India opportunity," he further said.