Mukesh Ambani has dropped a hint at leadership transition at the helm of affairs of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). The richest person in India said that Reliance was now in the process of effecting a momentous leadership transition, leading business observers to speculate that his three children might soon be playing a greater role in the group of companies he presently heads.
“All seniors — myself included — should now yield to the highly competent, extremely committed, and incredibly promising young leadership talent at Reliance,” Ambani said on 28 December at the Reliance Family Day, which marks the birth anniversary of the group’s founder Dhirubhai Ambani.
Ambani did not give details on how the transition is being planned.
Isha Ambani, Akash Ambani and Anant Ambani — the three children of Mukesh and Nita Ambani — already hold key positions in various Reliance companies. While Isha Ambani is the director, Reliance Retail Ventures, she also sits on the board of directors of Reliance Jio Infocomm.
Isha’s twin Akash Ambani is the director of Reliance Jio.
The youngest of the three, Anant Ambani, joined Jio Platforms as an additional director in 2020. He reportedly joined the new energy venture as a director earlier this year.
“Yesterday’s comments are merely a formalisation of the transition,” Ajay Bodke, an independent market analyst said. “I think the third generation has already demonstrated their capabilities in being worthy successors for both their illustrious grandfather and father by being at the forefront in negotiations with global technology leaders such as Google and Facebook, as well as attracting investments in the Jio Mart vertical,” he said.
Both Isha and Akash Ambani have been active during Reliance Industries’ mega divestment move of 2020 where Google, Facebook, General Atlantic and even Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF) invested in the retail and digital units of the company. The next generation of Ambanis has played a key role also in rolling out both Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail.
“Their role in conceptualising the roll-out of retail and digital platforms of Reliance is well known. I think the market is confident that the next generation will help in scaling up newer verticals of RIL and help in the evolution of the company into a global leader in clean energy and advanced EV Technologies,” Ajay Bodke added.
Mukesh Ambani, who began as a director of Reliance in 1977, when he was all of 20, understands the importance of starting young, industry watchers say.
Dhirubhai Ambani, the business tycoon who started Reliance Industries, had started young too. The founder of the Reliance empire had travelled to Aden (now in Yemen) and worked for A Besse & Co Ltd, the only selling distributor of Shell products, at the age of 17.
In the year 1958, when Dhirubhai Ambani was just 26 years of age, he came back to Mumbai and launched his first company, Reliance Commercial Corporation, a commodity trading and export house.