MUMBAI: The annual general meeting (AGM) of Reliance Industries was much awaited. With the talk around the company only growing in the past few weeks after it acquired Network18, eyes were fixed on the probable outcome of this meeting. The 40th AGM which was held today, saw RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani highlighting the future of the much awaited 4G broadband network in the country under the brand of Reliance Jio.
“I had shared the vision of this initiative, Jio- of a digital India- last year and of the unique opportunity that we have to maximise the benefits of the digital age. Digital services will help contribute significantly to the Indian economy and help improve lives of our 1.25 billion countrymen,” he said while addressing shareholders at the AGM.
He also informed the shareholders that limited set of trials for Jio are already underway and the expanded trials would begin from August 2014 which would continue through 2014 and early 2015. “The year 2015 will see the phased launch of Reliance Jio across India. Millions of customers would have started to use the digital platform and services in their daily lives. The fruits of the tremendous value created by this (Jio) Rs 70,000 crore initiative would start to flow,” he stated.
The broadband service will cover all states at launch accounting for 90 per cent urban India and 215,000 villages. Eventually it will cover over 600,000 villages. “They would ensure that every Indian has access to the state-of-the-art digital connectivity and services that are on par with or better than anywhere else in the world,” said Ambani proudly.
Assuring the shareholders about its future, Ambani emphasised, “Reliance Jio will be one of the largest job-creating and wealth-creating business initiatives in India.” Currently 10,000 full time employees are working on Jio along with 30,000 professionals from Reliance’s partners and vendors across the world. This apart, he said that 100,000 people are working across India in creating the digital infrastructure backbone for the network. “Millions of new entrepreneurs and jobs can be expected to spring up in the tertiary and secondary sectors in new and innovative digital enterprises and services,” he added.
Throwing light on the reason for acquisition of Network18, Ambani said, “The acquisition through an open offer of Network18 media and investments and its subsidiary TV 18 broadcast by Independent Media Trust, the sole beneficiary of which is Reliance Industries is one aspect of the digital services play.” He stated that this would strengthen its 4G business at the intersect of telecom, web and digital commerce and the media through a suit of premiere digital properties.
The reason for strengthening its large projects, one of which is Jio is to get Reliance Industries closer finding its way into the presetigious list of Fortune 50 companies. He added: “Our efforts and focus over the next two years will be to intensify these initiatives and have them reach out to more citizens across the social spectrum. Reliance will be moving from investing in India’s economic future to integrating deeper with India’s social fabric.”
The AGM was also significant as it saw the appointment of Mukesh Ambani's spouse Nita Ambani on the Reliance Industries board. Ambani stated that she was being appointed - as she was an "accomplished individual, the chairperson of the group's CSR initiative, Reliance Foundation, which has done exceedingly well - "for furthering the group's growth agenda."
Industry watchers have been speculating whether she will have a role to play in the Network18 group, which RIL is in the process of acquiring totally. The megacorp has denied that this "will come to pass, at least for now."
Stay tuned in!!!