Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani (born 19 April 1957) is an Indian billionaire businessman. He is currently the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, India's most valuable company by market value.[4] With an estimated net worth of $91.2 billion as of August 2023, he is the richest person in Asia and 13th richest in the world.[5][6] Sometimes characterized as a plutocrat;[7] he has attracted both fame and notoriety for reports of market manipulation, political corruption, cronyism, and exploitation.[8][9][10][11][12] Time magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people of 2019, under the "Titans" section.[13]

Mukesh Ambani
Ambani in 2007
Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani

(1957-04-19) 19 April 1957 (age 66)
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Chairman and MD, Reliance Industries
(m. 1985)
RelativesAnil Ambani (brother)
Tina Ambani (sister-in-law)

Early life edit

Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani was born on 19 April 1957 in the British Crown colony of Aden (present-day Yemen) into a Gujarati Hindu family to Dhirubhai Ambani and Kokilaben Ambani. He has a younger brother Anil Ambani and two sisters, Nina Bhadrashyam Kothari and Dipti Dattaraj Salgaonkar.

Ambani lived only briefly in Yemen because his father decided to move back to India in 1958[14] to start a trading business that focused on spices and textiles. The latter was originally named "Vimal" but later changed to "Only Vimal".[15][16] His family lived in a modest two-bedroom apartment in Bhuleshwar, Mumbai until the 1970s.[17] The family's financial status slightly improved when they moved to India but Ambani still lived in a communal society, used public transportation, and never received an allowance.[18] Dhirubhai later purchased a 14-floor apartment block called 'Sea Wind' in Colaba, where, until recently, Ambani and his brother lived with their families on different floors.[19]

Education edit

Ambani attended the Hill Grange High School at Peddar Road, Mumbai, along with his brother and Anand Jain, who later became his close associate.[20] After his secondary schooling, he studied at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.[21] He then received a BE degree in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology.[22][23]

Ambani later enrolled for an MBA at Stanford University but withdrew in 1980 to help his father build Reliance, which at the time was still a small but fast-growing enterprise.[22] His father felt that real-life skills were harnessed through experiences and not by sitting in a classroom, so he called his son back to India from Stanford to take command of a yarn manufacturing project in his company.[18]

Ambani has been quoted as saying that he was influenced by his teachers William F. Sharpe and Man Mohan Sharma because they are "the kind of professors who made you think out of the box."[22]

Career edit

In 1981 he started to help his father Dhirubhai Ambani run their family business, Reliance Industries Limited. By this time, it had already expanded so that it also dealt in refining and petrochemicals. The business also included products and services in the retail and telecommunications industries. Reliance Retail Ltd., another subsidiary, is also the largest retailer in India.[24] Reliance's Jio has earned a top-five spot[further explanation needed] in the country's telecommunication services since its public launch on 5 September 2016.

As of 2016, Ambani was ranked as the 36th richest person in the world and has consistently held the title of India's richest person on Forbes magazine's list for the past ten years.[25] He is the only Indian businessman on Forbes' list of the world's most powerful people.[26] As of October 2020, Mukesh Ambani was ranked by Forbes as the 6th-wealthiest person in the world.[27] He surpassed Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, to become Asia's richest person with a net worth of $44.3 billion in July 2018. He is also the wealthiest person in the world outside North America and Europe.[28] As of 2015, Ambani ranked fifth among India's philanthropists, according to China's Hurun Research Institute.[29] He was appointed as a Director of Bank of America and became the first non-American to be on its board.[30]

Through Reliance, he also owns the Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians and is the founder of the Indian Super League, a football league in India.[31] In 2012, Forbes named him one of the richest sports owners in the world.[32] He resides at the Antilia, one of the world's most expensive private residences with its value reaching $1 billion.[33]

Timeline edit

1980s–1990s edit

In 1980, the Indian government under Indira Gandhi opened PFY (polyester filament yarn) manufacturing to the private sector. Dhirubhai Ambani applied for a license to set up a PFY manufacturing plant. Obtaining the license was a long-drawn-out process requiring a strong connection within the bureaucratic system because the government, at the time, was restricting large-scale manufacturing, making the importation of yarn for the textiles impossible.[34] In spite of stiff competition from Tatas, Birlas and 43 others, Dhirubhai was awarded the license, more commonly addressed as License Raj.[35] To help him build the PFY plant, Dhirubhai pulled his eldest son out of Stanford in 1981, where he was studying for his MBA, to work with him in the company. Ambani did not return to his university program, as he was in charge of Reliance's vertical integration, from textiles into polyester fibres and further into petrochemicals, which the yarns were made from.[4] After joining the company, he reported daily to Rasikbhai Meswani, then executive director. The company was being built from scratch with the principle of everybody contributing to the business and not heavily depending on selected individuals. Dhirubhai treated him as a business partner allowing him the freedom to contribute even with little experience.[18] This principle came into play after Rasikbhai died in 1985 along with Dhirubhai suffered a stroke in 1986 when all the responsibility shifted to Ambani and his brother.[36] Mukesh Ambani set up Reliance Infocomm Limited (now Reliance Communications Limited), which was focused on information and communications technology initiatives.[37] At the age of 24, Ambani was given charge of the construction of Patalganga petrochemical plant when the company was heavily investing in oil refinery and petrochemicals.[38]

2000s–present edit

On 6 July 2002, Mukesh's father died after suffering a second stroke,[39] which elevated tensions between the brothers as Dhirubhai had not left a will for the distribution of the empire in 2004.[40] Their mother intervened to stop the feud, splitting the company into two, Ambani receiving control of Reliance Industries Limited and Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited, which was later approved by the Bombay High Court in December 2005.[41][42]

Ambani directed and led the creation of the world's largest grassroots petroleum refinery at Jamnagar, India, which could produce 660,000 barrels per day (33 million tonnes per year) in 2010, integrated with petrochemicals, power generation, port, and related infrastructure.[43] In December 2013 Ambani announced, at the Progressive Punjab Summit in Mohali, the possibility of a "collaborative venture" with Bharti Airtel in setting up digital infrastructure for the 4G network in India.[44] On 18 June 2014, Mukesh Ambani, while addressing the 40th AGM of Reliance Industries, said he will invest Rs 1.8 trillion (short scale) across businesses in the next three years and launch 4G broadband services in 2015.[45]

Ambani was elected as a member into the National Academy of Engineering in 2016 for engineering and business leadership in oil refineries, petrochemical products, and related industries.[46] In February 2016, Ambani-led Jio launched its own 4G smartphone brand named LYF.[47] In June 2016, it was India's third-largest-selling mobile phone brand.[48] The release of the service Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, commonly known as Jio, in September 2016 was a success, and Reliance's shares increased.[49] During the 40th annual general meeting of RIL, he announced bonus shares in the ratio of 1:1 which is the country's largest bonus issue in India, and announced the Jio Phone at an effective price of ₹0.[50] As of February 2018, Bloomberg's "Robin Hood Index" estimated that Ambani's personal wealth was enough to fund the operations of the Indian federal government for 20 days.[51]

In February 2014, a First Information Report (FIR) alleging criminal offences was filed against Mukesh Ambani for alleged irregularities in the pricing of natural gas from the KG basin.[52] Arvind Kejriwal, who had a short stint as Delhi's chief minister and had ordered the FIR, has accused various political parties of being silent on the gas price issue.[53] Kejriwal has asked both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi to clear their stand on the gas pricing issue.[54][55] Kejriwal has alleged that the Centre allowed the price of gas to be inflated to eight dollars a unit though Mukesh Ambani's company spends only one dollar to produce a unit, which meant a loss of Rs. 540 billion to the country annually.[56][57]

In August 2022, Ambani announced a $25bn plan for launching 5G mobile internet services in the next two months. High-speed internet will be launched in major cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai and then in the rest of the country by the end of 2023.[58]

Board memberships edit

Awards and honors edit

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu at an event gives The Economic Times Award for Corporate Excellence to Shri Mukesh Ambani
Year of Award or Honor Name of Award or Honor Awarding Organization
2000 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year[60] Ernst & Young India
2010 Global Vision Award at The Awards Dinner[61] Asia Society
2010 School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean's Medal[62] University of Pennsylvania
2010 ranked 5th-best performing global CEO[63] Harvard Business Review
2010 Global Leadership Award[64] Business Council for International Understanding
2016 Foreign associate, U.S. National Academy of Engineering[65][66] National Academy of Engineering
2016 Othmer Gold Medal[67][68] Chemical Heritage Foundation

Stock manipulation and penalty edit

For manipulating shares of Reliance Petroleum Limited (RPL), Reliance Industries was fined Rs. 950 crores (9.5 billion), split into 447 crores (4.47 billion) in retracted gains and 500 crores (5 billion) in interest in 2007.[69] In April 2006, RPL went public as a Reliance subsidiary for Rs. 60 per share. The market crashed by 30% after it floated at roughly Rs. 100, and RPL was back at 60. By Securities and Exchange Board of India directive, RIL carried out an organised operation with the help of its agents to obtain unauthorised profits from the trading of its formerly listed unit, RPL, which was combined with the former in 2009.[70][71][72][73][74]

Personal life edit

The Ambani Family at the reception of Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh in 2018.[75]

He married Nita Ambani in 1985 and they have two sons, Akash and Anant, and a daughter, Isha, who is Akash's twin.[3][76] They met after his father attended a dance performance which Nita took part in and thought of the idea of arranging a marriage between the two.[77]

They live in Antilia, a private 27-storey building in Mumbai, which was valued at US$1 billion and was the most expensive private residence in the world at the time it was built.[33][78] The building requires a staff of 600 for maintenance, and it includes three helipads, a 160-car garage, private movie theatre, swimming pool, and fitness centre.[79]

In 2007, Ambani gifted his wife a $60 million Airbus A319 for her 44th birthday.[80] The Airbus, which has a capacity of 180 passengers, has been custom-fitted to include a living room, bedroom, satellite television, WiFi, sky bar, Jacuzzi, and an office.[81]

Ambani was titled "The World's Richest Sports Team Owner" after he purchased the IPL cricket team Mumbai Indians for $111.9 million in 2008.[82][83]

Mukesh Ambani is a strict vegetarian and teetotaler.[84]

During the fiscal year ending 31 March 2012, he reportedly decided to forgo nearly ₹240 million from his annual pay as chief of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). He elected to do this even as RIL's total remuneration packages to its top management personnel increased during that fiscal year. Mukesh Ambani holds a 50.4% stake in the company.[85] This move kept his salary capped at ₹150 million for the fourth year in a row.[86]

In early 2019, a court in Mumbai held his younger brother, Anil Ambani, in criminal contempt for non-payment of personally guaranteed debt Reliance Communications owed to Swedish gearmaker Ericsson. Instead of jail time, the court gave Anil a month to come up with the funds. At the end of the month, Mukesh bailed out his younger brother, paying the debt.[41] In 2021, he was the subject of a bomb scare when a green Mahindra Scorpio SUV packed with explosives was found near a Mumbai skyscraper housing Ambani.[87] In 2023, he received a death threat via email.[88]

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External links edit