With an ambitious plan to expand in the retail business, Mukesh Ambani has more delicious things in mind than his empire's old staples, petroleum and petrochemicals.
Highly placed sources said the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries met Italian prime minister Romano Prodi on February 13 to discuss various issues. While Reliance is eyeing upstream petroleum business in Italy, Ambani also had cheese and pasta on his discussion menu.
Prodi, whose personal origins lie in the Emlia Romagna region famous for food processing, wanted Italian companies to get engaged with Reliance's agri-business ventures.
Since Reliance is building a supply chain for its retail business, the sources said the company is looking at setting up processing units for cheese and pasta in India.
In addition, Reliance has placed contracts worth around $300 million with leading Italian energy group ENI for supply of upstream technology in the exploration and production of oil. ENI has a presence in Africa, the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Caspian Sea, Australia, Middle East, Far East and India.
Prodi is believed to have told Ambani that EMI's strong presence in North Africa and the Caspian region would be complementary to Reliance.
Medical research and life sciences also figured in the 45-minute meeting in Mumbai.