New Delhi: Reliance Industries on Friday said that it will be debt free by the end of this year and will soon enter the cash and carry wholesale trade business.

'With a cash balance of Rs.42,393 crore ($ 9.5 billion), our company is in a very strong position financially. Reliance will be completely debt free, net of cash balances within this year,' said Mukesh Ambani at the company's 37th annual general meeting.

'Reliance Retail will soon launch a cash and carry format that is built on the principle of inclusive growth. This format will offer regional, national and international brands to millions of small traders and kirana shop owners,' he added.

Reliance Retail has a geographical footprint of over 1,000 stores across 86 cities. Every week, 2.5 million customers shop in these stores.

According to Ambani, Reliance has a healthy financial position at an enterprise value of $75 billion in just 33 years since the company floated its first public offer.

'This growth signifies we have grown 28 percent year-on-year in the last 33 years in terms of revenue, 30 percent in terms of net profit and 37 percent in market cap. This is among the highest rates of growth for any business enterprise across the world.'

Ambani said that exports have also risen 33 percent at Rs.146,667 crore ($32.9 billion) and made up 57 percent of the turnover of Reliance in the last financial year. The company has been India's largest exporter for the past 10 years, he added.

Reliance will also be expanding polyester manufacturing capabilities owing to the rising polyester demand in the country. 'This expansion will further consolidate our global leadership position and increase our polyester capacity to 3.6 million tonnes.'

He also stressed on creating solutions to address the digital value chain in fields like education, healthcare, entertainment and financial services.

'India is on the verge of a digital revolution which will connect, enable and enhance the lives of Indians. India has to and can reach broadband penetration levels comparable to other developed nations,' said Ambani.

'Reliance plans to create end-to-end solutions that address the complete digital value chain, including rich content, applications and services.

RIL profit lowers on disappointing AGM

The country's biggest company and market mover, Reliance Industries, reversed its gains in early trade and fell by over 1.5 per cent after its annual shareholders meeting here today failed to address investors' concerns, including the decline in gas output in KG-D6 fields.

The RIL scrip, which had a positive start, fell by 1.65 per cent to Rs 936.15 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. It shed 1.68 per cent to Rs 967.90 a piece during intra-day trade.

On the National Stock Exchange, the stock closed at Rs 936, down 1.58 per cent from the previous close.

"Too many questions were left unanswered, be it the company's entry into the financial services sector, or gas ramp-up issue.

Market was expecting that the company would make some announcement on acquisition front," said SMC Global Securities' Chief Strategist and Research Head Jagannadham Thunuguntla.

In terms of volume, over 56 lakh shares of the company changed hands on the bourses.

The decline in the bellwether, which carries the maximum weight on Sensex, was instrumental in dragging the key index by 117.70 points to 18,376.48.

RIL's scrip has declined 11 per cent since December 31, 2010, while the Sensex has lost over 10 per cent during the same period.

"Lack of any major announcement by Mukesh Ambani at the RIL AGM hit the sentiment today," IIFL Head of Research (India Private Clients) Amar Ambani said.

Reliance on Friday said the energy-to-retail conglomerate will be free of debt by March next year, using cash earned from selling its stake in oil and gas fields to UK's BP Plc, on whom it is also pinning hopes for reviving the sagging natural gas output at its KG-D6 fields.

Mukesh Ambani said the company plans to raise plastic manufacturing capacity and invest aggressively in its retail business by launching cash-and-carry, or wholesale outlets.

On the company's broadband foray, he said Reliance was conceptualising its foray into broadband wireless services.

He, however, did not live up to the market expectations of unfolding a blueprint for an entry into financial services, and giving guidance on when the falling output at its crown-jewel eastern offshore KG-D6 fields will be arrested.

Agencies