Profits at India's Reliance double on oil, retail recovery

Mumbai (AFP) –


Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries saw its quarterly profits more than double between January and March, the firm said Friday, boosted by a turnaround in its key oil and retail businesses.

The Mumbai-based behemoth -- which is owned by Asia's richest man, Mukesh Ambani -- said its consolidated net profit for the period jumped 108 percent to 132.27 billion rupees ($1.79 billion) from 63.48 billion rupees a year earlier.

The oil-to-telecoms giant enjoyed a strong recovery during the quarter as India eased coronavirus lockdowns, prompting the transport and retail sectors to bounce back, before a ferocious second wave of infections forced a new round of restrictions this month.

"Our consumer businesses have proved to be a digital and physical lifeline for the nation in these challenging times," Ambani said in a statement.

Its telecom arm Jio added over 15 million subscribers during the quarter, with revenues up by 18.9 percent, as pandemic restrictions saw increasing numbers of Indians rely on digital services.

The conglomerate said its operating revenues grew 11 percent to 1.54 trillion rupees for the quarter, with its retail revenues climbing 20 percent and its refining revenues up 4.4 percent.

Ambani is locked in a high-stakes battle with Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, as Amazon and Reliance fight for a share of India's massive e-commerce market.

The two firms are currently engaged in a row over Ambani's acquisition of domestic retail giant Future Group -- which Amazon has sought to delay, with a Singapore-based arbitration panel asking Reliance to halt the deal.

Reliance has dismissed the panel's order, saying its agreement with Future Group complies with Indian law.

Amazon, which owned a stake in one of Future Group's firms that reportedly included an option to buy into the flagship company, claims that the $3.4 billion Reliance deal, announced last August, amounted to a breach of contract.

Shares of Reliance were down 1.42 percent in Mumbai on Friday ahead of the earnings announcement.