Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) may be looking at major forays into homeland security and aerospace sectors. In the first firm indication of the group’s intention, it has hired Vivek Lall, a former NASA scien- tist who aggressively led Boeing’s military and commercial division in India for several years.
Lall is joining RIL as president for a new venture which would be focused on home- land security and aerospace, sources said. A RIL spokesperson declined to comment. According to market sources, Lall could be leading the new RIL venture with cut- ting-edge homeland security solutions. There is also speculation that the group could go further down and enter aerospace arena at an appropriate time, one source said.
Reliance sources said Lall’s appoinment to pursue opportunities in the home- land security space is synergistic with the group’s plans for broadband wireless access services. The group is expected to roll out the next generation technology services soon. RIL is looking to develop safe and secure smart cities as well as systems for disaster management preparedness.
When Lall headed the Boeing commercial arm it won over $25 billion worth of commercial aircraft business in three years, and during the past four years when he headed defense, space and security the company scooped up almost $10 billion worth of business in India.
into the security sector could have significant impact on the entire industry, given the over-dependence of India on foreign suppliers for security solutions. Homeland security is a major growth sector, with national security agencies and state police forces on an unprecedented modernization drive.
There is also a major demand for home- land security solutions from the private sector — RIL itself is among the biggest consumers of security solutions in the country. RIL’s entry into homeland and aero- space security could have a far bigger impact than the entry of Indian groups such as Tata, L&T and Mahindra. Lall is among the new breed of professionals to join RIL from other companies. A few years ago, the group had hired R Ravimohan as executive to transform business processes from Standard & Poor’s. A few months into his new assignment, Ravimohan had died of a heart attack. Other professionals who have joined the group in the recent past include ex- Citibanker V Srikanth and Gwyn Sundagul from Tesco Thailand. Srikanth was appointed as deputy CFO in July 2010 while Sundagul heads the Reliance Value retail format since December 2009.
– Veelaas Kenjale