Is Mukesh Ambani thinking of stepping down? Here’s what he said about succession at RIL


by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: Dec 29, 2021, 01:14 PM IST

Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), has fueled speculation that he might be preparing the ground to hand the baton over to others.

To be sure, the 64-year-old billionaire remains firmly in the saddle for now. But if his recent comments are any indication, he may have at least already started thinking of hanging up his boots as the executive head of RIL in the foreseeable future.

The comments are significant. Ambani, who heads the diversified conglomerate, has previously never spoken about succession plans at the country’s most valuable company.

Moreover, the comments come nearly two decades after RIL founder and Mukesh’s father, Dhirubhai Ambani, passed away in July 2002 without leaving a will. The lack of a succession plan subsequently led to a division of the business empire between Mukesh and his younger brother Anil.

What has Mukesh Ambani actually said?

On Tuesday, Ambani said that he wanted the process of transition to be accelerated with seniors, including him, yielding to the younger generation.

Reliance, he said, was “in the process of effecting a momentous leadership transition”, according to media reports.

Ambani also said that RIL will become one of the strongest and most reputed Indian multinational companies in the world in the coming years, propelled by forays into the clean energy sector as well as retail and telecom business reaching unprecedented heights, according to The Economic Times.

“Achieving big dreams and impossible-looking goals is all about getting the right people and the right leadership. Reliance is now in the process of effecting a momentous leadership transition... from seniors belonging to my generation to the next generation of young leaders,” he said.

“All seniors – myself included – should now yield to the highly competent, extremely committed, and incredibly promising young leadership talent at Reliance," Ambani said. “We should guide them, enable them, encourage them and empower them... and sit back and applaud as they perform better than us.”

So, if, and when Ambani does decide to hang up his boots, who could take over from him?

The actual structure of the team that might succeed Ambani and other apex-level executives at RIL is not known. But it may be very likely that one or all of his three children—twins Akash and Isha, and Anant—will be key members of the team. In fact, Ambani and his wife, Nita, have already initiated them into the business, as the three siblings are often seen at the group’s annual general body meetings and other important occasions. 

“I have no doubt that Akash, Isha and Anant as the next-gen leaders will lead Reliance to even greater heights,” Ambani said.

In them, he saw “the same spark and potential” that legendary industrialist and his father Dhirubhai Ambani had “for making a difference to millions of lives and contributing to India's growth”, the billionaire said.

“Let us all wish them good luck in their mission to make Reliance ever more successful with even more transformative initiatives and achieving even greater accolades for our Reliance,” he said.

Ambani also mentioned his kids’ respective spouses--Isha’s husband Anand Piramal, Akash’s wife Shloka and Anant’s rumoured girlfriend Radhika, although he did not elaborate any further on them. 

How is the conglomerate divided into its constituent verticals?

RIL has three verticals – the energy business, comprising oil refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat, petrochemicals plants and new energy factories; the retail business made up of physical stores and online e-commerce unit in JioMart; and the telecom and digital business housed in Jio Platforms Ltd.

The energy business, which was previously confined to oil refining, petrochemicals, fuel retailing and natural gas production, is now investing billions of dollars in setting up clean energy factories.

“Now, Reliance is poised to become a global leader in clean and green energy and materials,” Ambani said. “This transformation of our oldest business will provide us the largest growth engine for Reliance and yet another opportunity to many of you to do things that will be first in the world.”

“In the past one year alone, we have onboarded nearly one million small shopkeepers and created nearly one lakh new employment opportunities. This growth engine will continue to create significant societal value by providing unlimited opportunities for our partners and employees,” he said.

Telecom arm Jio has gained over 120 million subscribers and brought fibre to nearly 4 million homes and commercial establishments. “It has laid the foundation for making India the world's premier digital society,” he added.

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Nifty 50
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