The next phase of the Ambani legacy

The next phase of the Ambani legacy
Source: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

If you’ve watched any TV, you know that fraternal feuds over the family business can get pretty ugly. Well, that isn’t just in Hollywood – it really does happen. One of the most famous examples in recent history was the Ambani family. See, when Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder of Reliance Industries, died in 2002 without a will, it triggered a years-long dispute between his sons, Mukesh and Anil. The result of that spat was that Reliance Industries was split up into two chunks – one that would still be called Reliance Industries (which Mukesh got a significant stake in) and another called Reliance Group (which Anil owns).

Well, now, Asia’s second-richest person, Mukesh Ambani, is looking to prevent the same thing from happening to Reliance Industries when he steps down. The company is a conglomerate with its fingers in several different industries, including renewable energy, retail sales, telecommunications and fintech. Mukesh has three kids, and so far, it hasn’t been clear how the company will be split up between them.

Back in June, it was announced that Mukesh’s oldest son, Akash, would be taking over the wireless operator Reliance Jio Infocomm, but the other siblings weren’t mentioned yet. But on Monday, Mukesh announced that his daughter, Isha, would be taking over the retail wing of the conglomerate and that his youngest son, Anant, would be joining the energy wing.

The reason this is such a big deal is that Reliance is, well, massive. It’s India’s biggest company by market value, with a valuation of over US$220 billion, and Mukesh himself is worth more than US$90 billion. But the company, like many others right now, has been dealing with some market headwinds. So it seems that Mukesh is looking to avoid any power struggles at the top.

“The succession plan addresses the market’s concern on business sustainability during leadership transition,” said Horace Chan, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.