Reliance Industries Ltd. toppled Exxon Mobil Corp. to become the world’s largest energy company after Saudi Aramco, as investors piled into the conglomerate lured by the Indian firm’s digital and retail forays.
Reliance, which is controlled by Asia’s richest man and manages the world’s biggest oil refinery complex, rose 4.3% in Mumbai on Friday, taking its market value to $189 billion, while Exxon Mobil lost about $1 billion. Aramco, with a market capitalization of $1.75 trillion, is the world’s biggest company.
The Indian company extended gains in early trading on Monday, rising around 2%. Reliance’s shares have jumped 46% this year, while Exxon’s have fallen 39% as refiners across the globe struggled with a plunge in fuel demand.
While the energy business accounted for about 80% of Reliance’s revenue in the year ended March 31, Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s plan to expand the company’s digital and retail arms has helped him attract $20 billion into the Jio Platforms Ltd. unit. That in turn helped add $22.3 billion to Ambani’s wealth this year, propelling him to the fifth spot in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Ambani’s dealmaking has lured investments from Google to Facebook Inc. into his digital platform in recent months. The 63-year-old tycoon has identified technology and retail as future growth areas in a pivot away from the energy businesses he inherited from his father who died in 2002.
Meanwhile, large-scale global oil demand destruction due to coronavirus — some 30 million barrels a day, or a third of regular usage, in April — sent energy markets into a second-quarter tailspin, from which they’ve only recently started to recover. Worst-in-a-generation oil prices combined with OPEC production cuts, collapsing refining margins and millions of barrels of unsold crude have hurt big oil companies including Exxon and Chevron Corp.