Mukesh Ambani will lead Reliance for 5 more yrs, puts in place succession plan


Rama Krishna Sangem

India’s richest business tycoon Mukesh Ambani (67) will continue at the helm of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) as chaiman and managing dirctor (CMD) for five more years, till 2028. However, he, on August 28, Monday, put in place a successon plan for his three children – Isha, Akash and Anant – by giving them almost equal size businesses.

Mukesh Ambani’s children – Isha, Akash and Anant – were appointed to the board of Reliance Industries Ltd, in what is seen as a clear path for succession planning at India’s most valuable company.

The board of the energy-to-technology conglomerate met ahead of the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) to approve the appointment of twins Isha and Akash, as well as Anant, as the “non-executive directors of the company,” the firm said in a stock exchange filing.

Last year, the 66-year-old tycoon made way for his first-born, Akash Ambani, to become the chairman of India’s largest mobile firm, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. Ambani, however, continued to be the chairman of Jio Platforms, the firm that holds Reliance Jio Infocomm. Akash’s twin sister, Isha, 31, was identified for Reliance’s retail arm and the youngest sibling, Anant, for the new energy business.



Nita Ambani looks after Reliance Foundaion

The filing also said Ambani’s wife, Nita Ambani, is stepping down from the company’s board. “Nita Ambani to step down from the board – to continue as chairperson of Reliance Foundation,” the filing read.

At the 46th annual general meeting of the company, Ambani announced that the company will launch its Jio AirFiber on September 19 this year. He also said that the company is adding one 5G cell every 10 seconds and will have over one million subscribers by December this year.

Ambani also said, “Reliance added 260,000 direct jobs in India across all its business last year. Its total number of employees stands at 390,000.”

US Ivy League university-educated Ambani scions have in the last few years been groomed for leadership positions at Reliance’s three units — oil to chemicals, telecoms and retail.

While retail and digital services are housed in separate wholly-owned subsidiaries, the oil-to-chemical or O2C business is a functional division of Reliance. The new energy business is also with the parent firm. The three businesses are almost equal in size.

While Akash and Isha, who is married to Anand Piramal (son of Piramal Group’s Ajay and Swati Piramal), have been both active in the group’s new-age businesses of retail and telecom, Anant has been involved in the renewable energy and oil and chemical units of Reliance as a director.

The announcement is a clear sign that Mukesh, who was embroiled in a bitter inheritance dispute with his younger brother after their father Dhirubhai died in 2002 without a will, is preparing to handover the baton to his children in the future.

Ambani and his brother Anil fought a bitter battle for control of Reliance Industries. After a protracted public spat, their mother brokered the split in 2005; Ambani took oil and petrochemicals, while Anil got telecommunications, power, and financial business among other units.

But their fortunes diverged – while Ambani rose to become the richest Asian, Anil pleaded “zero” net worth to a London court in 2020. The brothers, however, seemed to have reached a detente in recent years: in 2019 Ambani helped Anil to make a USD 77 million payment that allowed him to escape jail. Ambani re-entered the telecom business and now also has a financial business unit.

While Akash and Isha graduated from Brown and Yale respectively, Ambani dropped out of Stanford to build a petrochemical factory for his father.





Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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