Mukesh Ambani

INDIAN conglomerate Reliance Industries reported a 31 per cent jump in quarterly profits Thursday (30), due to a one-time gain from British oil giant BP’s investment in its fuel retailing business and a strong performance by its telecom arm Jio.

The Mumbai-based firm, which is owned by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, said its consolidated net profit for the three months through June 30 rose to Rs 132.33 billion ($1.77 billion).

A Bloomberg survey of analysts had predicted net profit for the quarter to come in at $951 million, citing the impact of coronavirus-led restrictions on the firm’s retail and oil businesses.

Reliance said its gross refining margin, the profit earned from each barrel of crude, was down to $6.3 in the June-ended quarter from $8.1 last year for the same period.

Refining margins are a key profitability gauge for the company, which operates the world’s biggest refining complex in Gujarat state.

In recent months Ambani has raised more than $26 billion in a rights issue and through selling stakes in Reliance to foreign investors.

The oil-to-telecoms giant is locked in a fierce battle with Amazon and Walmart for a share of India’s e-commerce market.

Ambani’s plan to partner with Google and launch an affordable smartphone will see him compete with Chinese manufacturers who already have a strong foothold in the South Asian nation.

“Our growth strategy is aimed at meeting the needs of all the 1.3 billion Indians. We remain focused on playing a leading role in India’s transformation into a Digital Society,” Ambani said in a statement.

Major players including Google, Facebook, Intel, and others have already ploughed some $15 billion into Reliance’s digital unit, Jio Platforms, this year.

Its telecom arm Jio is the country’s biggest mobile operator with 398.3 million subscribers.

Ambani has also announced plans to launch 5G services in India next year and export the technology once it had been deployed across the country.

In June, BP paid $1 billion to Reliance for a 49 percent stake in its fuel marketing business, with the aim of expanding the number of retailing stations from 1,400 to 5,500 over the next five years.