India

India's Reliance grows above pre-pandemic levels, refining powers profit surge

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A man walks past a Reliance Industries Limited sign board installed on a road divider in the western Indian city of Gandhinagar January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave

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BENGALURU, Oct 22 (Reuters) - India's Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS) posted a 43% surge in second-quarter profit that exceeded market expectations on Friday, as rising demand and higher average selling price for oil products boosted its mainstay oil-to-chemicals business.

The Mumbai-based conglomerate's pandemic-hit energy and retail businesses are seeing a massive rebound with travel back in full swing and shoppers returning to stores as vaccination picks up pace in India.

Revenue from the oil-to-chemicals unit, home to both its refining and petrochemicals operations, rose 58.1%, also benefiting from higher transportation fuel margin.

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With the lifting of lockdowns, business at its retail division, which consists of more than 12,000 stores and supermarkets, returned to pre-pandemic levels with revenue of 399.26 billion rupees.

"All our businesses reflect growth over pre-COVID levels," said Chairman and Asia's richest man Mukesh Ambani in a statement.

Reliance, India's most valuable company, has in recent years invaded the retail and telecom sectors to tap into India's consumer boom as it looks to reduce its dependence on its mainstay energy arm.

Reliance's telecom unit Jio reported a 24% rise in profit, with a net addition of 23.8 million subscribers from a year ago.

The company said it would "soon" launch the low-cost smartphone it was developing with Google (GOOGL.O), after a delay due to an industry-wide chip shortage.

The company said consolidated profit rose to 136.80 billion rupees in the quarter ended Sept. 30, from 95.67 billion rupees a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 134.65 billion rupees, according to Refinitiv data.

Overall revenue from operations rose 50% to 1.74 trillion rupees from a year earlier.

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Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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