Mukesh Ambani: Richest Man of India

Mukesh Ambani is ranked among the richest people in the world and is the only Indian businessman in the Forbes’ list of world’s most powerful people in 2018. He is the chairman, managing director, and the largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).  Let’s find that out about Mukesh Ambani.

Mukesh Ambani Childhood and Early Life

He was born on 19 April 1957 to Dhirubhai Ambani and Kokilaben Ambani in Aden, Yemen.  He has two sisters, Dipti Salgaoncar and Nina Kothari, and a younger brother, Anil Ambani. His father left Yemen in 1958 to start a business of spices in India but shifted his focus towards the textile business.

Mukesh received his early education in Mumbai and did BE degree in Chemical Engineering at the Institute Of Chemical Technology. He enrolled for an MBA at Stanford University but had to opt out in 1980 to help his father build and expand Reliance Industries.

Upon coming back, he took command of a yarn manufacturing project in the company. He was only 24 years old when his father gave him charge of construction of Patalganga petrochemical plant. It was because of the reason that the company was investing a lot of money in an oil refinery and petrochemicals and also that Mukesh’s father treated him as a business partner.

Mukesh Ambani family
Mukesh Ambani family

Image Source: Pressman

Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), did not become a Fortune Global 500 company overnight. Instead, it took years into making this India’s second largest company (as measured in revenue).  It became first company to

Companies of Reliance
Companies of Reliance

As Mukesh returned to India to assist his father in expanding the company, Reliance Industries moved from textiles into polyester fibres and further into petroleum refining, petrochemicals etc.

After the death of Mukesh’s father in 2002, the company went through a period of some elevated tensions. It was because Dhirubhai Ambani did not leave a will behind for the distribution of his empire and it created a tussle between two brother Mukesh and Anil. It was 2004 and Mukesh’s mother, Kokilaben, had to intervene at the sight of things getting out of control. She decided that the company will be divided into two but the control of Reliance Industries Limited and Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited will be given to Mukesh. In 2005, this decision was approved by the Bombay High Court as well.

After taking over the reign of the Reliance Industries Limited, Mukesh has been quintessential in making the company a global entity. With petroleum, petrochemicals, natural gas, retail, Textiles, media, and telecommunications as the main products, the company became the largest publicly traded company in India by market capitalization. Mukesh had the foundation already laid for him by his father; however, he was the one who took the company to new heights. For instance, the company reorganized its business in 2005 and 2006 by demerging its investments into four separate entities e.g. power generation, distribution, telecommunication services, and financial services.

He is responsible for directing and leading the creation of the world’s largest grassroots petroleum refinery at Jamnagar, India. Although petroleum refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat had an installed capacity of 668,000 barrels per day, it was later increased to 1,240,000 barrels per day – making it the largest refinery in the world.

Reliance Retail Ltd. was founded in 2006 as the subsidiary company of Reliance Industries Limited. When it comes to revenue, it is the largest retailer in India. Thanks to the world-class supply chain management and network infrastructure, the company has successfully established strong foundations in the retailing and digital services business.

After Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced its plans of establishing Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2007, the bidding war for the teams started. Reliance Industries Ltd. bought the Mumbai franchise for $111.9 million, hence making it IPL’s most expensive team. Mukesh knew about the potential of the new league and therefore decided to acquire the rights of the franchise for a 10 year period at that time. Since then, Mumbai Indians have won 3 IPLs and 2 Champion League finals, making his decision of investing in a cricket league a correct one.

Mukesh proved why he is hailed as the ‘wealth creator’ when he decided to set up Reliance Infocomm Limited (now Reliance Communications Limited). It is one of the largest and most complex information and communications technology initiatives in the world. Jio was founded in 2010 and was soft-launched by the end of 2015. Ever since Jio became publically available on 5 September 2016, it has become one of the top five communication services in the country.

Excerpt from Reliance Annual Report of 2017-18 on Reliance Revenue, Profit from different companies

Reliance Revenue, Profit from different companies
Reliance Revenue, Profit from different companies

How Mukesh Ambani Thinks Big?

Mukesh is able to become the richest man in India through his sheer will and determination. But it cannot be denied that he is an intelligent man who knows where to spend his energy.

Mukesh Ambani has raced ahead and has become India’s most successful businessman, he is the world’s 19th richest man with a net worth of Rs 2.6 lakh crore, while Reliance Industries netted Rs 36,075 crore ($5.5 billion) in profits.

  • Because he has diversified his business to enter financial services with Jio Payments Bank in a tie-up with the State Bank of India,
  • Because he has diversified his business to enter financial services with Jio Payments Bank in a tie-up with the State Bank of India,
  • He bought 5 per cent stake in Eros International to add heft to Jio’s content strategy, and has combined with Saavn to create a digital media platform with a global reach whose total value is over Rs 6,500 crore
  • Jio, now the world’s largest and fastest growing mobile data network, stunned the world
  • Reliance Retail is the only Indian retailer to rank among
  • He hasn’t taken his eyes off the traditional businesses, with RIL expected to pump in Rs 40,000 crore in KG-D6 oil fields in the east coast with partner BP PLC

My father foresaw that India could become globally competitive and always thought in terms of scale. That became the DNA of Reliance

Reliance Jio

The idea of Jio was first seeded by his daughter, Isha, 26, in 2011. As a Yale University student, she was home on vacation and said “the internet in our house sucks” as she couldn’t submit her coursework, spurring Ambani to work on a fourth-generation telecom network. He deftly manoeuvred through the telecom landscape exactly as he had done in petrochemicals and oil, triggering consolidation and eliminating a few weak rivals, with those companies either merging with the strong for survival or closing down their operations.

Mukesh Ambani described his phone company as the world’s largest start-up, entailing an initial investment of Rs.1.5 trillion. The money has been pumped into setting up telecom infrastructures, such as telecom towers, fibre optic cables and purchase of spectrum. Jio is not just a telecom network, it is an entire ecosystem that allows Indians to live the digital life to the fullest. He believes the firm is igniting a subcontinental data revolution that will help solve some of India’s intractable problems in areas like agriculture, education and healthcare. Or as he sometimes says more succinctly, “Data is the new oil.”

Jio’s next-generation all-IP data network with the latest 4G-LTE Technology changing just not the Indian telecom industry but the whole country. Within months of Jio’s launch, India shot up to World No.1 in mobile data consumption. Jio has become the world’s largest and fastest growing mobile data network, boasting an unprecedented level of consumer engagement. More subscribers were added to Jio’s network in the last year than all other operators combined. Equally important, Jio turned profitable in the first year of commercial operations.

Comparison of Mukesh Ambani with Anil Ambani

Anil Ambani is the chairman of Reliance ADA Group, a company that was formed when the business of Dhirubhai Ambani was divided into two parts. He has a large number of stocks in Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Capital, Reliance Communications, and Reliance Power. However, when the comparison between the two brothers is done, there is a $41 billion wealth gap as in Oct 2018.

In 2007, Anil Ambani had a net worth of $45 billion, according to the Forbes Rich List. His biggest asset was a 66% stake in telecom venture Reliance Communications. Elder brother Mukesh had a net worth of $49 billion.

In the 2017 Forbes Rich List, Anil’s net worth had shrunk to just $3.15 billion while Mukesh’s was $38 billion. 

The tale of the two brothers’ diverging fortunes began 16 years ago, when their rags-to-riches father Dhirubhai Ambani, whose life inspired a Bollywood film, died of a stroke without leaving a will.

The Feud

A feud between two sons following their father’s death dogged the group until their mother, Kokilaben, stepped in during 2005 and brokered a truce. Mukesh got control of the flagship oil refining and petrochemicals, while Anil got the newer businesses such as power generation and financial services. He also took over the telecoms unit, which under Mukesh had expanded aggressively by bundling phones with mobile connections at throwaway prices.

Resolution of the feud

A feud between his two sons following their father’s death dogged the group until their mother, Kokilaben, stepped in during 2005 and brokered a truce. Mukesh got control of the flagship oil refining and petrochemicals, while Anil got the newer businesses such as power generation and financial services. He also took over the telecoms unit, which under Mukesh had expanded aggressively by bundling phones with mobile connections at throwaway prices.

At the time, the wireless division seemed to give Anil some of the more promising opportunities. Crude oil prices had climbed to a then-record price of more than $60 a barrel in 2005, sparking concern that refiners’ margins may get eroded. India’s burgeoning mobile-phone market was hailed as the future.

A non-compete clause between the brothers kept Mukesh out of that arena until the agreement was scrapped in 2010. Mukesh quickly returned, pumping in more than 2.5 trillion rupees ($34 billion) over the next seven years to build a speedier 4G wireless network for his Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

It took a long time to pay off. Reliance’s shares lagged S&P BSE Sensex index for most of the past decade as investors watched Mukesh pour money into his telecom network with little sign of a return at first.

When it came in 2016, the impact was dramatic. By July this year, less than two years after starting the service, Jio had signed up 227 million users and was making a profit. Rivals were bleeding as Mukesh’s upstart embarked on a devastating price war, offering monthly plans for as little as $2. What financed that investment was Dhirubhai’s old oil and petrochemicals business, which, expanded by Mukesh, still accounts for 90 per cent of Reliance’s profit.

How Anil Ambani fared after the Split and why?

Like his brother, Anil invested billions to expand his portfolio, but the younger brother didn’t have a cash cow like the oil refinery to finance growth. Instead, like other businesses in India and elsewhere, many of his companies increased debt.

Of Anil’s businesses, shares of Reliance Naval & Engineering Ltd. saw the worst decline this year. Bought in 2015 as part of his bet on defense as the next engine of growth, the warship and submarine maker has proven hard to turn around. Its loan accounts have been “ irregular or substandard” since 2014,. The defence contractor is in arbitration with ex-owners over the latter’s alleged breach of some warranties. Auditors in April cautioned against the firm’s ability to survive and two creditors have an ongoing lawsuit to send Reliance Naval into insolvency. In a stock exchange filing in April that sought to allay the auditor’s concerns, the company said it is engaged with its lenders and is confident on reaching a solution “to resolve the financial position of the company and to continue as a going concern.”

Another of Anil’s defense firms has come under scrutiny over the 2016 negotiations between France and India for $8.7 billion of French warplanes. In an Aug. 20 statement, Anil and his company denied allegations from opposition lawmakers that the deal unfairly benefited his company, saying the lawmakers had been “misinformed, misdirected and misled by malicious vested interests and corporate rivals.”

Anil’s Reliance Infrastructure Ltd., which built Mumbai’s first metro line, missed a bond payment in August as it waited for proceeds from the sale of power transmission assets to fellow billionaire Gautam Adani’s unit to cover the amount. It plans to be debt-free by next year, Anil said at a briefing in August.

Electricity generator Reliance Power Ltd., also part of Anil’s group, has failed to stem a decade of overall decline in its shares since its record IPO in 2008, just as the global financial crisis hit.

The group’s profitable financial services firm Reliance Capital Ltd. have also seen its shares decline in 2018.

But the biggest challenge for Anil’s empire came from his brother’s business. Reliance Communications Ltd., once the flagship of Anil’s portfolio, was battered by the price war Jio started. Last month, Rcom sold its 178,000 kilometre fibre-optic network for 30 billion rupees as part of a disposal that will see it divest of almost all of its wireless assets and exit from the mobile phone business. The buyer was Mukesh’s Jio.

The sale of RCom assets to Jio brings the saga of the two brothers full circle and sets the stage for the next chapter in the story of one of India’s great business dynasties.

Anil is gradually unwinding RCom’s debts and refocusing the firm toward real estate.  In Oct 2018 he told investors that a property development in Navi Mumbai, a planned city across the bay from India’s financial capital, will create 250 billion rupees in value for investors.

Mukesh Ambani House Antila

MUKESH AMBANI is probably best known outside India for building the world’s most expensive privately owned home, a 27-story sky palace that looms above South Mumbai and cost an estimated $1 billion called Antila. “I have just one home,” he says somewhat defensively, “not 30 or 40 around the world, as some do.” There, with his wife, Nita, a member of the International Olympic Committee and the chair of one of India’s premier soccer leagues, he frequently entertains luminaries from the worlds of sport, fashion and entertainment. 

Antilla has 27 floors and is 173m (570 ft) high(as tall as a typical 60-storey building). It has a health centre, yoga studio, a ballroom, a dance floor, and an ice room to escape Mumbai’s heat. The building has a 50-seat mini theatre and hanging garden.  The first six floors are reserved for parking cars of Mukesh’s family and have space for 168 cars.  Top floors offer panoramic views of the Arabian Sea. It houses 600 full-time staff. It is the world’s largest and costliest home with a price- tag more than a billion dollar.

Antilia or Antillia is named after the mythical island in Atlantic ocean.  The myth is that these islands were at the edge of the world marking the boundaries beyond which sailors cannot navigate and pillars were set up by Hercules.

The person who lives in there should be concerned about what he sees around him and [asking] can he make a difference. If he is not, then it’s sad because this country needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways of mitigating the hardship that people have.”

The remark was made by reputed Indian industrialist, Ratan Tata, scion of Tata Industries, about Mukesh Ambani, managing director of Reliance Industries, living in a billion dollar mansion, Antilla, in Mumbai.

Our article raises the question Is Mukesh Ambani Flaunting His Wealth Through His Billion Dollar House Antilla?

Antilla Mukesh Ambani $1 billion house
Antilla Mukesh Ambani $1 billion house

Mukesh Ambani’s Family

Mukesh Ambani married Nita Ambani in 1984. They have one daughter, Isha, and two sons, Anant and Akash. Regardless of being a business tycoon, Mukesh is known for giving priority to quality family time over the business.

Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha Ambani Marriage

Isha Ambani, daughter of Nita and Mukesh Ambani, will get married to her long-time friend and industrialist Anand Piramal on 12 Dec 2018 at Ambani residence in Mumbai.  The weekend prior to the wedding, both the families will host wedding festivities in Udaipur for their friends and families. According to media reports, American pop star Beyonce might perform at the sangeet ceremony. With the wedding date nearing, which designer do you think Isha Ambani will be seen wearing on the D-Day?

Isha and Anand have both studied in Ivy League colleges. Isha graduated from Stanford University in the US, while Anand pursued his MBA at the Harvard Business School.

In  September, Isha and Anand had gotten officially engaged in Lake Como in Italy and their bash was attended by several celebrities from B-Town. Anand had proposed to Isha in a temple in Mahabaleshwar which had kicked off the eventual wedding plans.

Isha Ambani with Anand Piramal
Isha Ambani with Anand Piramal and family

Akash Ambani and Shloka marriage

Isha’s twin brother Akash Ambani got engaged to diamantaire Russell Mehta’s daughter Shloka in Jun 2018. Akash and Shloka’s engagement was an extravagant affair, spread over three days, in Mumbai.

Shloka and Akash have been longtime friends and studied together at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai’s BKC.

Anant Relationship

If rumours are to be believed, Anant is dating Radhika Merchant. Anant and Radhika have been spotted together on lunches and photos of the two regularly find their way to social media.

Radhika is the daughter of Viren Merchant, CEO and vice-chairman of Anchor Healthcare. She and Anant have been friends for a long time before they began seeing each other.

Radhika Merchant studied at the New York University before coming back to India.

She joined Isprava, a real-estate firm that “creates dream holiday homes for those with the finest tastes”.

Related Articles:

Nita Ambani: Is there is more to her than money?

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