Kenya in Talks With Reliance, Tatas for Investments

Kenya’s government is in talks with Reliance Industries Ltd., India’s biggest company by market value, and the Tata Group for possible investments in the African country, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said.

“Reliance and Tata groups are interested,” Odinga told Bloomberg-UTV in an interview at the World Economic Forum’s India economic summit in New Delhi today. “We see a new group of Indian multinationals taking interest not only in Kenya, but the rest of Africa.”

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance has $6.5 billion in cash to use in buying energy assets overseas as natural gas output from its biggest deposit in India stagnates. Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata has made 66 acquisitions in two decades. The group’s revenue was more than $67 billion in the year ended March, according to its website.

Reliance is looking at investing in oil exploration in Kenya, Odinga said.

Manoj Warrier, a spokesman for Reliance, declined to comment. Raman Dhawan, managing director of Tata Africa Holdings, couldn’t immediately be reached at his office in Johannesburg.

Reliance bought three shale-gas assets in the U.S. this year. The Mumbai-based explorer and oil refiner paid $943 million for the three assets and agreed to spend $2.5 billion in future drilling costs on behalf of its partners.

Reliance had 293.5 billion rupees ($6.5 billion) in cash and equivalent and outstanding debt was 682 billion rupees as of Sept. 30, according to an Oct. 30 statement.

Oil Blocks

Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore energy explorer, has told the Kenyan government it plans to drop licenses to search for oil and gas in two Kenyan blocks by December, Mines and Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike said Oct. 21. Cnooc is interested in working with Tullow Oil Plc and Africa Oil Corp. to explore five other blocks, Nyoike said then.

Kenya has four sedimentary basins that have been divided into 38 exploration blocks, Nyoike said in July. About 24 of the blocks are being explored, he said.

Reliance, owner of the world’s biggest refining complex, bought fuel retailer Gulf Africa Petroleum Corp. to enter the African market in September 2007. Gulf Africa Petroleum retails fuel in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. It owns storage tanks and depots in east and central Africa, Reliance said at the time.

The Tata Group’s businesses in Africa include automobiles, phone services and a hotel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Unni Krishnan in New Delhi at ukrishnan2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Anstey at canstey@bloomberg.net.

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