Reliance Industries Ltd. has reversed its course and will not buy and develop an industrial property in Kinston, N.C.
Reliance USA operations President Thakur Sharma confirmed the withdrawal Sept. 3, but declined to elaborate on the decision. He said Mumbai, India-based Reliance remains interested in investing in the U.S., but no longer is interested in the Kinston site.
In an Aug. 30 e-mail to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Reliance officials said only that ``certain important conditions could not be satisfied'' for the deal to be completed.
In late June, Reliance had announced the deal to buy a former polyester yarn plant from Unifi Inc. of Greensboro, N.C. The plant, which closed in late 2007, sits on property owned by chemical giant DuPont Co.
Reliance, which ranks as India's largest private company, had planned to add PET resin production to the site. Plans called for spending $215 million to create more than 200 jobs in the production of PET resin and specialty polyester yarns.
The firm also would have received more than $2 million in a job-creation grant from the state's Department of Commerce. Department spokeswoman Deborah Barnes said none of that amount had been paid.
As recently as mid-July, Reliance officials had discussed plans for the site, telling the Kinston (N.C.) Free Press newspaper that a third rail spur would be built at the site to accommodate rail traffic that could exceed 8,000 cars per year.
The reversal e-mail which came from Reliance business head B. Arun came as a surprise to Mark Pope, executive director of the Lenoir County Economic Development Department. Pope and officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation had met with Reliance personnel to discuss a new rail spur for the site on Aug. 28 just two days before the e-mail was sent.
Reliance was in line to receive a $200,000 grant from NCDOT for the project. At that meeting, Pope said there was no indication that Reliance was considering pulling out of the project.
``It's disappointing,'' Pope said in a Sept. 4 telephone interview. ``We had worked six or eight months on this and had lined up all the incentives and figured out who needed to be involved. It took a lot of coordination.''
Pope's organization planned to have a conference call with Reliance the morning of Sept. 5 to see if there's any way the deal for the Kinston site could be salvaged.
Reliance is India's largest resin maker and is one of the world's largest makers of polypropylene. The firm also leads the world in production of synthetic yarn. Its largest business is in oil and gas production and refining. Petrochemicals including plastics accounted for about 37 percent of sales in Reliance's 2008 fiscal year, which ended March 31.
Reliance posted sales of $34.7 billion in fiscal 2008. That figure represented a gain of 27 percent vs. fiscal 2007. The firm's profit also soared 77 percent to almost $4.9 billion.