Mumbai: Corporate giant Reliance Industries' chief Mukesh Ambani is slated to announce on Friday slew of initiatives for both existing and new businesses of the energy-to-retail conglomerate, possibly through multiple partnerships and potential acquisitions.

At RIL's 37th Annual General Meeting, Ambani might underline a roadmap for RIL's foray into new areas like financial services, telecom and power, as also the expansion of its existing businesses like energy, textiles and retail.

The industry watchers are expecting Ambani to focus on technology and new partnerships for RIL's various ventures.

At the same time, investors and marketmen are eagerly awaiting for a positive trigger for the company's stock, which has been underperforming the market for many months now.

RIL shares have fallen by about 6 per cent over the past one year, as against a rise of nearly 7 per cent in the benchmark Nifty. Another benchmark index Sensex has gained nearly 11 per cent during the same time period.

The stock, however, gained 0.6 per cent in a weak market on Thursday and closed at Rs 951.85 at BSE. The stock had fallen to as low as Rs 885 in February this year, after hitting a 52-week high of Rs 1,187 on November 1, 2010.

The announcements would be keenly watched by not only about 36 lakh shareholders of RIL, but also investors across the market, as it is the country's most valued firm and the stock has the maximum weigtage in the benchmark Sensex.

Talking about market expectations, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services' Gaurang Shah said, "The market is expecting some kind of ramp-up and exploration activities to figure out during the company's 37th AGM on Friday."

"Investors are also keenly awaiting announcement on acquisition and investment front," he said, adding that some movement could be expected in the stock as it has not been in limelight for quite some time.

HSBC also said in a recent brokerage report that the cash-abundant RIL might soon announce overseas acquisitions and a faster rollout of its telecom services.

SMC Global Securities' Chief Strategist and Research Head Jagannadham Thunuguntla, however, said that there might not be any blockbuster announcement by RIL this time also, as the last two AGM's were very muted.

Ashika Stock Broking's Rsearch Head Paras Bothra also said that there were not much expectations, but the market would still keep a close watch on the AGM for possible announcements regarding its oil business and acquisitions. Unicon Financial Services' CEO Gajendra Nagpal said that the stock has not performed that well in the last one year and overall there is not much expectation from the AGM on Friday.

However, Ambani's proclamation, through his letter to shareholders, about the group's intention to bring on board new partners of international scale has given rise to numerous speculations about the possible partners.

Accordingly, expectations have grown exponentially for the AGM at Birla Matushri auditorium in South Mumbai, which has been hosting RIL's annual shareholder meet for many years now with packed-to-wall presence and a serpentine queue starts building up since early morning for 11 am meeting.

The group is already talking to about half a dozen global majors in financial services segment and some announcements are likely in this regard at Friday's AGM.

For the probable partners, names like American Express are doing the rounds, while global names like Verizon, AT&T, France Telecom and Alcatel Lucent being speculated as possible partners for telecom venture, although there is no official word as yet.

As of now, private equity firm DE Shaw has been brought on board, but the entire gamut of financial services business would not be conducted through this partnership alone.

DE Shaw is currently involved in a court battle over its investment in a print media company Amar Ujala and the same deal is also facing multiple probes, including by RBI and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

RIL, which plans to bring fourth-generation (4G) telecom services to the country, plans to converge its financial services with latest technology and the DE Shaw tie-up would come handy on this front.

 

(Agencies)