REFILE-UPDATE 1-India's Reliance says to invest $26 bln, tight-lipped on 4G plans

Thu Jun 6, 2013 3:49am EDT
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By Prashant Mehra

MUMBAI, June 6 (Reuters) - Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd will spend more than $26 billion across its businesses over three years, it said on Thursday, giving few details of plans for its long-anticipated launch of 4G telecommunications services.

Reliance, India's fourth-largest company by market value, has been under pressure from investors worried by its slowing natural gas business and its drive into consumer sectors such as telecoms and retail.

Reliance has for years looked to diversify beyond its core energy business, but profits have been elusive.

Reliance Jio Infocomm, its telecoms unit, is the only Indian company to have nationwide permits for 4G services. Nearly three years after acquiring the airwaves, it is yet to start commercial services.

Chairman Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting that he had a bullish view of the potential for digital services in India, and the unit would more than triple its headcount to 10,000 over next year, but did not say when services will be launched.

"Let me assure sceptics that my continued optimism is based on the significant strides that we at Reliance have taken in the past year - towards engineering and testing a world-class broadband network, and in developing a suite of compelling and synergistic digital services," he said.

"Our impatience to reach our goal demands a sense of urgency, but not careless haste," Ambani said, amid speculation that the company will make its commercial 4G network launch later this year.   Continued...