Mukesh Ambani has appointed one of his most trusted lieutenants to help kick start the services of Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL). The appointment of PMS Prasad comes at a time when RJIL is looking to set up services and enter the Indian telecom market with a bang.
Prasad has been heavily involved with all of Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL) petroleum operations, overseeing the day-to-day working and also supervising various oil & gas installations in the country, including KG-D6 off the coast of Andhra Pradesh. RIL has held a lot less oil blocks over the last year – six as compared to 34 in 2006. According to sources within the company, this has given Prasad time to work on the telecommunications venture. Even with his involvement in the telecom business, Prasad will remain in-charge of RIL’s oil and petroleum business, the company said.
Prasad’s involvement with India’s largest private sector enterprise goes back more than three decades. After meeting with Reliance’s founder – Dhirubhai Ambani and his son, Mukesh Ambani convinced the engineer to return to the country of his birth and start a polyester factory. His previous experience includes stints with utility projects in Africa and Schlumberger. From polyester Reliance branched out into making petrochemicals, setting up the world’s biggest oil refining complex and exploring for gas with Prasad in various roles. He was closely involved with Reliance’s first phone venture that started in December 2002 and the purchase of undersea fibre-optic cable operator Flag Telecom in 2004.
Prasad’s project management skills have been revered across RIL for long now. This was after he helped build Reliance’s two oil refineries in Gujarat and developed the company’s biggest gas field off India’s east coast. He also happens to be a key member of the core RIL project team – the team that calls the shots in every major decision taken at the industry giant. For 4G though, the stakes are high. Telecom has always been close to Mukesh Ambani. A venture with his father at the start of the millennium was successful but he had to let it go. With RJIL, Ambani expects results and quick and effective rollout would mean instant success. The company also holds a pan-India 4G license and recently acquired vital spectrum in the spectrum allocation auction conducted by the telecom ministry.
With acquisitions such as Infotel Broadband Services in 2011, hours after successfully bidding Rs 12,850 crore for nationwide wireless-broadband licences in tow, there’s a lot riding on RJIL. Ambani’s son has also joined the telecom arm after graduation from Brown in a clear sign that a large amount of focus is going to shift towards the telecom arm.