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Mukesh Ambani outlines RIL’s e-commerce ambitions at AGM, shares fall

At the RIL AGM, Mukesh Ambani said the e-commerce effort will involve the group’s Reliance Retail Ltd. and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. businesses

business Updated: Jul 05, 2018 18:32 IST
RIL AGM,Mukesh Ambani,RIL
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, arrives with his wife Nita Ambani to address the company's annual general meeting in Mumbai on July 5.(REUTERS)

Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) plans to take on the likes of Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart Online Services Pvt. in retail by creating a platform that combines online and conventional shopping.

Billionaire Chairman Mukesh Ambani outlined the plan Thursday at RIL’s annual general meeting (AGM) for shareholders in Mumbai. The effort will involve the group’s Reliance Retail Ltd. and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. businesses, he said. The latter will also introduce a fiber-based broadband service on Aug. 15.

Global retail powerhouses like Amazon and Walmart have been investing in India’s retail industry, where e-commerce sales could more than double to $72 billion by 2022 from $32.7 billion in 2018, research firm eMarketer estimated. The retail-to-refining conglomerate is looking for growth in e-commerce after spending as much as 2.5 trillion rupees ($36.3 billion) in setting up mobile and fiber broadband infrastructure, Ambani said.

The platform will use augmented reality, holographs and virtual reality to create an “immersive shopping experience,” Ambani said, without giving a timeline or financial targets. The service will be available to small merchants as well, enabling them to “do everything that large enterprises and large ecommerce players are able to do.”

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said in May it will acquire a 77 percent stake in Flipkart Group for $16 billion, leaving the remainder to Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal and other shareholders.

RIL shares fell 2.6 percent to 964.50 rupees in Mumbai.

Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd., a provider of cable television and broadband services, plunged 15 percent, its biggest decline since 2010, while DEN Networks Ltd. dropped 10 percent on expectations Ambani’s Jio will intensify competition. The carrier may look to gain fiber broadband subscribers by offering lower prices and some free services, a strategy that worked for Jio’s phone services.

First Published: Jul 05, 2018 18:01 IST