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Coronavirus impact: Mukesh Ambani pads up to protect half a million Reliance employees

Reliance chairman chairing meetings every second/third day to take stock of the impact of coronavirus on its half a million employees and business

twitter-logo Nevin John        Last Updated: March 18, 2020  | 10:14 IST
Coronavirus impact: Mukesh Ambani pads up to protect half a million Reliance employees
Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani has been keeping a close watch on the impacy of coronavirus on his employees and business

For nearly a month now, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of India's largest firm Reliance Industries has been chairing a meeting every second to third day to take stock of the impact of coronavirus on its half a million employees and business.

RIL's business has been affected by coronavirus outbreak as well as the crash in crude price. The company has lost Rs 4.4 lakh crore market value over the last three and a half months, a fall of 44 per cent since it crossed the market capitalisation of Rs 10 lakh crore in November last year. Brent and WTI crude prices have fallen nearly 35 per cent in about a week after Saudi Arabia and Russia started the price war.

"He is worried about the employees who are frequent business travellers, besides those who work abroad. The group is taking advice from a team of doctors and setting the health standards across its offices. The digital team has already put forth precautionary campaigns," a Reliance spokesperson told BusinessToday.In.

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Major precautions have been taken at Reliance Corporate Park in Navi Mumbai and its refining and petchem complex in Jamnagar. The production unit in Patalganga and the retail outlets are also following standard sanitation and hygiene processes.

"We have a medical helpline for the families to contact in case of medical emergencies. We have doctors in our campuses," said the executive.

WORK FROM HOME

Reliance Industries has empowered division heads to offer work from home, especially to women employees. The idea is to ensure most employees do not have to travel to work and get exposed to public spaces. Fourteen per cent of Reliance's managerial strength comprises of women.

Employees who work in remote areas are connected through the digital platform of Jio and Microsoft Teams. Besides, HR platform 'Employee Xperience Platform' (EmpXP) addresses general queries of employees, including topics related to health and emergency, in an intuitive and personalised manner. The platform is augmented by AI based 'Employee Virtual Assistant' and 'AI based learning recommendations'.

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GLOBAL OPERATIONS

RIL has about 5 lakh employees, mostly in India. Some of them are also at its offices in the US since it has investments in shale gas, besides trade relations. It procures crude largely from Middle East and sells the finished products in Asian and European markets. Coronavirus is rapidly spreading in these countries, while India has also seen a steady rise in cases.

Analysts expect the fall in crude prices to reduce the crude procurement costs of RIL, but they estimate the gains will be offset by inventory losses, which the refining company earlier bought at higher costs. The general softness in demand in India will also restrict the gains. RIL is also in the business of exploration and production (E&P), especially in KG Basin. The price fall will affect the prospects of E&P business, which is already struggling.

RIL has made an investment of nearly Rs 5.4 lakh crore over the last five years to build Reliance Jio and expand petrochemical production capacity. Jio has recruited nearly 1.3 lakh people in the last few years. The market has crashed just when the company was aiming to become debt free by March 2021. RIL has also been planning to sell stakes in Reliance Retail and Jio to strategic investors before launching their initial public offerings (IPOs).

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