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RIL will `eventually' hold 45 pc stake in infocom venture

Our Bureau

MUMBAI, July 31

RELIANCE Industries Ltd (RIL) will ``eventually'' hold 45 per cent stake in Reliance Infocom, Mr Anil Ambani, Managing Director, RIL, said today.

``We have invested Rs 2,000 crore in the infocom venture so far, all of which has been funded internally,'' Mr Ambani said. RIL plans to invest another Rs 5,000-7,500 crore and will hold equity and provide debt for the venture.

Reliance plans to go in for listing Reliance Infocom on the stock exchange at an ``appropriate time.''

This year, RIL has increased the amount earmarked for its infocom investments to $5 billion from the earlier $3 billion.

``We plan to invest the amount of Rs 25,000 crore over the next five years in the venture which will include laying an optical fibre network of 60,000 km across the country by end-2002. Of this, 18,000 km has already been completed,'' Mr Ambani said.

Mr Ambani reiterated RIL's intention to participate in the disinvestment process of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. ``The due diligence process is on and any decision to buy a stake, when the disinvestment takes place, will be based on whether it is a commerci ally-viable option,'' he said.

Mr Ambani denied any plans for expansion of its Jamnagar refinery to 40 million tonnes from 27 million tonnes.

He said the process of divesting Reliance Petroleum Ltd would be completed during the course of this year. He said UTI holds five per cent equity in RPL and has participated in the selling of its stake during the disinvestment process.

The company is awaiting Government go-ahead for marketing of controlled goods.

Mr Ambani also said that financial institutions had chosen not to sell their stake in BSES Ltd when RIL had first made its open offer. ``If they are willing to sell now, we are still open to that,'' he said.

The company's petrochemicals production volumes are expected to go up to 11 million tonnes during the year, though petrochemical margins are expected to be under pressure, he said.

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