Reliance Communications Ltd.’s plunge has yet to drag down the fortune of its Chairman Anil Ambani. The 57-year-old tycoon’s net worth has inched up this year, even as shares of his wireless unit have plummeted 39 percent, wiping about 33.1 billion rupees ($513 million) from its market value. At the same time, the Reliance Group founder’s wealth has swelled by about $82 million to $2.7 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
Gains from Reliance Group’s financial services arm Reliance Capital Ltd. and Reliance Power Ltd. have outstripped the erosion at a telecom unit battered by investors questioning its creditworthiness. The turbulence at Rcom, as the phone unit is known, has come at a time when the group’s Reliance Infrastructure Ltd. is planning to list a trust with some road assets and its Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd. business is working toward becoming a new profit pillar by winning weapons contracts.
A Reliance Group spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
The Ambani family conglomerate entered the telecom industry in 2002 before a dispute led the group to divide assets in 2005 between Anil and older brother Mukesh, now India’s richest person. Reliance Communications — which went to Anil — has struggled in an increasingly competitive market, particularly after Mukesh’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. stormed into the market last year with offers of free services.
* Reliance Communications rose 4.3 percent to 20.75 rupees at the close of trading on Thursday and is this year’s worst-performing stock on the S&P BSE 200 Index.
* The company is in discussions with Chinese lenders about a waiver on interest payments on loans of about $1 billion until September, according to people familiar with the matter, who aren’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. The credit rating for its rupee-denominated bonds and loans were slashed to D on May 30 by Indian rating firms ICRA Ltd. and CARE Ratings, their lowest score indicating default or that default is expected soon.
* The telecom unit has said it’s confident it could repay 250 billion rupees of debt with proceeds from sales of its towers and a 50 percent stake in its wireless business. It has also said it’s looking to monetize some of its land parcels.
* An outright default is unlikely at this stage as Reliance Communications has been continuously seeking covenant waivers from its lenders, HSBC Holdings Plc analysts Anna Zhang and Keith Chan wrote in a May 31 note.