Reliance to spin off Oil-to-Chemicals business

Expects necessary approval for the independent entity by Q2 of next FY.

By   |  Published: 23rd Feb 2021  9:31 pm
Representational Image.

New Delhi: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries has announced the contours of carving out of its oil-to-chemicals (O2C) business into an independent unit with a $25 billion loan from the parent, as it looks to unlock value by selling stakes to global investors like Saudi Aramco.

The reorganisation will enable the focused pursuit of opportunities across the O2C value chain, improve efficiencies through self-sustaining capital structure and a dedicated management team, and attract dedicated pools of investor capital, according to a company presentation filed with the stock exchanges. The O2C business unit holds Reliance’s oil refinery and petrochemical assets and retail fuel business but not upstream oil and gas producing fields such as KG-D6 and textiles business.

Once completed, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) – the company founded by Dhirubhai Ambani in the late 1960s – will house only the upstream oil and gas exploration and production business, including the KG-D6 block, financial services, group treasury and the legacy textile businesses, and act as a holding company of the group. The retail business is held in Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd and telecom and digital ventures are nested in Jio Platforms Ltd.

RIL holds 85.1 percent of Reliance Retail and 67.3 per cent of Jio Platforms. The rest it had sold to global investors including Facebook Inc and Google for over Rs 2 lakh crore. The wholly-owned O2C unit’s assets will be funded by the interest-bearing loan, which will be an “efficient mechanism to upstream cash, including any potential capital receipts,” in the unit, the firm said.

RIL will provide a loan of $25 billion to the O2C subsidiary at floating interest rate with the subsidiary having about $42 billion of assets (28 per cent of consolidated assets). RIL is giving a $25 billion, 10-year loan to this newly created arm for buying the assets of the O2C businesses. Even though the O2C assets will move into a new arm, its debt will continue to sit inside RIL.

RIL is also working on a structure wherein the interest cost that the O2C arm will bear for buying the assets will be equal to the interest cost that parent RIL bears for its outstanding loans. RIL started work on hiving off the O2C business into a separate unit last year for a possible stake sale to companies such as Saudi Aramco. It values the O2C business at $75 billion and has been in talks with Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco) for sale of a 20 per cent interest.

“Reorganisation of O2C business facilitates participation by strategic investors and marquee sector-focused investors,” the firm said adding it would have no impact on RIL’s consolidated financials as well as investment-grade international and domestic credit ratings. The company is expected┬áto get the necessary approvals for the spin-off by the second quarter of the next fiscal year.

RIL also announced its aim to work with the O2C business to reduce its carbon footprint and become “net carbon zero” by 2035. Reliance O2C Limited houses oil refining and petrochemical plants and manufacturing assets, bulk and wholesale fuel marketing, and RIL’s 51 per cent interest in retail fuel joint venture with BP of the UK. The O2C unit also houses the firm’s Singapore and the UK-based oil trading subsidiaries and marketing subsidiary, Reliance Industries Uruguay Petroquimica SA.

It also houses Reliance Ethane Pipeline Limited that operates a pipeline between Dahej in Gujarat and Nagothane in Maharashtra as well as a 74.9 per cent stake that Reliance holds in the joint venture with Sibur. It’s very large ethane carriers, gas pipelines such as one that transports coal-bed methane from its CBM blocks, overseas oil and gas asset holding company Reliance Industries (Middle East) DMCC, and domestic exploration and production assets would not form part of the O2C unit.