Reliance to invest $ 24 billion in the Gulf: Ambani

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Dubai, Dec 12 (UNI) India's largest industrial conglomerate Reliance Industries will invest as much as 24 billion dollars in petrochemical projects in the Gulf countries in the next ten years, company's chairman and managing director Mukesh D Ambani said.

Also, it will reposition its global operation to Dubai by strengthening its office here, he said, adding, ''Dubai will be the gateway for our future investment in this part of the world and beyond''.

In an interview to the Gulf News, the business tycoon said, ''We will increase our headcount in Dubai, which will be the nerve centre of our international operations.'' Mr Ambani said, ''We plan to set up a number of petrochemical plants in the next decade, with each costing four billion dollars to six billion dollars.'' At this rate, four refineries or petrochemical plants could require investment to the tune of 20-24 billion dollars.

''We have major commitments to the region, which is the hub of the oil and gas sector. We import 30 billion to 40 billion dollars worth of oil including the bulk from the Gulf, refine it and export gasoline worth 80 billion dollars to Europe and the US,'' said Mr Ambani whose personal wealth is estimated at 37 billion dollars, with younger brother Anil Ambani the second-richest man in India at 25 billion dollars.

By strengthening the company's position in the Gulf, he said, ''We are bringing the Indian market to the Gulf. The region's biodiversity creates a great opportunity for us as the region has the wealth and we have the knowhow.'' ''India, China and the Gulf are the future of business. That's why there is a shift among the Gulf's leadership to focus on India and China instead of Europe and the US. The Gulf region is ready for us and the future growth will come from India and China,'' he added.

Mr Ambani, who is visiting to Dubai to explore business opportunites, on Monday met His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

''Given his vision, Dubai will be completely transformed within the next five to seven years. We have great respect for Shaikh Mohammad's leadership,'' Mr Ambani said, adding that his company ''will have a role to play in that transformation''.

Reliance group has a solid base of hard cash and represents the might of corporate India, is not yet ready for big-ticket acquisitions.

Reiterating it, Reliance Industries MD said,''We will need to grow and invest in our own expansion for at least 10 more years, before entering into big-time acquisitions.'' The Reliance Group, founded by Dhirubhai H. Ambani (1932-2002) who started off his career in Yemen, is India's largest private sector enterprise. Last year, it became India's first private sector enterprise to cross the two billion dollars profit mark.

With 1.3 million barrels per day in refining capacity, Reliance has become a major player in the global petrochemical trade.

Investing in the Gulf could help the company save costs on transportation and logistics, and in turn help the GCC countries, which are suffering an acute shortage of refining capacity.

UNI

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