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Reliance overtakes Exxon to become world's No 2 energy firm

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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.

[NEW YORK] 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 per cent in Mumbai on Friday, taking its market value to US$189 billion, while Exxon Mobil lost about US$1 billion. Aramco, with a market capitalization of US$1.75 trillion, is the world's biggest company.

The Indian company extended gains in early trading on Monday, rising around 2 per cent. Reliance's shares have jumped 46 per cent this year, while Exxon's have fallen 39 per cent as refiners across the globe struggled with a plunge in fuel demand.

While the energy business accounted for about 80 per cent 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 US$20 billion into the Jio Platforms Ltd unit. That in turn helped add US$22.3 billion to Ambani's wealth this year, propelling him to the fifth spot in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Mr 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.

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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.

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