Asia Minute: A Billionaire’s Brotherly Gesture

Mar 19, 2019

Mukesh Ambani at the 2007 World Economic Forum
Credit World Economic Forum / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / Flickr

There is a business news story from India this week about a pair of famous brothers who appear to have reached a truce in their long-time feud.

These billionaire brothers have fascinated many in India for nearly two decades. Mukesh Ambani and his younger brother Anil worked together at Reliance Industries — the sprawling Mumbai-based conglomerate founded by their father. He died in 2002 without a will.

The brothers fought over the company — eventually agreeing to split it up. Mukesh took the petroleum business, and chemicals and related activities. Anil got telecommunications, financial services, and other areas — several of which eventually went into heavy debt.

Bloomberg News tracks billionaires and says Anil Ambani’s net worth went from at least 31 billion dollars in 2008 to about 300-million dollars today. Meanwhile, Bloomberg says his brother Mukesh is now the richest man in Asia with a net worth of roughly 53 billion dollars.

Anil Ambani during 2012 Reliance Group AGM at Mumbai
Credit Sourav Mishra / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Anil currently owes the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson tens of millions of dollars. Last month a court gave him thirty days to pay about 80-million dollars or go to prison for three months.

This week, his brother Mukesh stepped in to make that payment just before the younger Ambani faced time behind bars. Anil Ambani said he and his family are “grateful we have moved beyond the past…and deeply grateful and touched with this gesture.”