MUMBAI, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Reliance Industries Ltd , a conglomerate that operates the world's biggest refinery, reported a rise in profits that beat forecasts, helped by stronger refining margins, and said it would invest up to $9 billion in the next two quarters.
The company, controlled by India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has been expanding beyond its core refining and petrochemicals business by investing in consumer-focused areas such as retail and telecoms.
"We have spent 450 billion rupees in the first six months, what we can make out is that we'll spend probably between 500 billion to 550 billion rupees ($8.2-$9 billion) in the next six months," Reliance Chief Financial Officer Alok Agarwal told reporters in Mumbai on Monday.
Its gross refining margin, or profit from each barrel of crude oil refined, was $8.30 per barrel in the quarter to end-September versus $7.70 per barrel year ago, Reliance said.
"Renewed optimism in the domestic economy augurs well for business and consumer confidence, particularly against the backdrop of continuing concerns on global economic growth," Ambani, who is chairman of the group, said in a statement.
Reliance reported a 1.7 percent rise in net profit on Monday for its fiscal second quarter to Sept. 30.
It also said it was hopeful of a decision on the price of natural gas by next month. Reliance and its partners in the Krishna Godavari (KG) D6 block off India's east coast are in arbitration with the government over a hike in gas prices, delayed three times.
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