Move over Jack Ma, Asia has a new richest man. Mukesh Ambani, the 61-year-old force behind Reliance Industries Ltd., the oil-to-telecom behemoth, has eclipsed the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder — at least for now. It’s the latest landmark for the Indian businessman who constructed himself a 27-story home in Mumbai having lifted his father’s textile business to unimaginable heights.
1. How much is Ambani worth?
Ambani’s fortune has grown to $44.3 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His wealth derives mainly from Reliance Industries, India’s second-biggest company with a market capitalization of more than $100 billion. Ambani is chairman and managing director and, together with his family, controls more than 43 percent. He also receives dividends, a salary and fees as a director, as well as owning a stake in Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Ltd. and holding some valuable private investments, including a gas pipeline.
2. How did Mukesh Ambani get his break?
From his father. Dhirubhai Ambani began his career as a clerk before venturing out on his own to trade spices and yarn. He then set up Reliance Industries to manufacture fabrics and textiles. Mukesh was born 10 years after India’s independence from the British in 1947 and trained as a chemical engineer before joining the Reliance board as a 20-year-old, along with his younger brother Anil. Mukesh Ambani earned a reputation for executing large-scale projects and played a crucial role in taking the company into refining and petrochemicals in the 1990s and then telecom and retail in the 2000s. He was instrumental in establishing Reliance’s first major manufacturing project at Patalganga followed by the world’s largest refining complex at Jamnagar on India’s west coast.
3. Why did the brothers fall out?
When Dhirubhai Ambani died in 2002, he didn’t leave a will. Mukesh and Anil, now 59, fell into a dispute that lasted for more than a decade. In a settlement brokered by their mother in 2005, the brothers split the family business. Mukesh retained control over refining, petrochemicals, oil and gas and textiles operations. Anil took the construction, telecommunications, asset management, entertainment and power generation businesses. The siblings’ financial paths soon began to diverge.