Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani, who's 65-year-old now, gave clear indications of his much-anticipated succession plans for the $217 billion empire he has led from the front over the years. India's biggest company in terms of market cap held its 45th annual general meeting of shareholders on Monday, during which Mukesh Ambani shared thoughts on the direction RIL could be taking in the years to come. This was a clear continuation of his last year’s announcement in the AGM, when he said RIL will eventually be led by the next generation of leaders.
The tycoon, who’s the second richest businessman in India after Adani group chairman Gautam Adani, has already handed over the reins of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. to Akash Ambani, while Isha Ambani is actively engaged in RIL’s retail unit as its director; both Isha and Akash are the directors of RIL's retail and telecom units.
As per Mukesh Ambani, his third and youngest child, Anant Ambani, has also joined the company's New Energy business. Anant is the director of RIL's solar business.
The official announcement regarding Isha Ambani and Anant Ambani's leading roles as chiefs in these respective companies is yet to come, though Ambani Sr.'s statement yesterday indicated the ventures they could lead in the future.
All in all, Ambani Sr. appreciated the "next-gen leaders" at RIL, who are confidently taking over the reins across businesses -- clearly hinting at the role his children are playing in taking ahead of the companies.
"Akash and Isha have assumed leadership roles in Jio and Retail respectively. They have been passionately involved in our consumer businesses since their inception. Anant has also joined our New Energy business with great zeal. In fact, he is spending most of his time in Jamnagar," says Ambani.
Heaping praises on his children, Mukesh Ambani says all three have fully inherited the RIL founder's (Dhirubhai Ambani's) mindset. "They are first among equals in a young team of leaders and professionals who are already doing amazing things at Reliance," adds Ambani Sr.
He also said that all of them are being mentored on a daily basis by RIL's senior leaders, including myself and the board of directors. He also sought the blessings of the company shareholders for young leaders of Reliance, including Isha, Akash and Anant.
Akash, who is the eldest child of Mukesh Ambani, was appointed chairman of Jio Platforms Ltd. (JPL) subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm, the country's biggest telecom network with a total customer base of 41.3 crore as of June 30, 2022, June 2022, as Ambani Sr. resigned from the position. The move surprised the industry and was seen as part of succession planning by the 65-year-old industrialist. Ambani Sr., however, continues to lead Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of RIL.
The three have also shown equal interest in taking the companies forward. Akash has been instrumental in striking deals with global investors like Facebook (now Meta), Qualcomm, Google and others, which helped Jio Platforms raise around $20 billion by selling a 33% stake. Akash completed his degree in economics from Brown University. He is married to Shloka Mehta, Russell and Mona Mehta’s daughter. They have a son named Prithvi Akash Ambani.
Isha Ambani has also contributed to Reliance Retail as a director. Even Mukesh Ambani introduced her as leader of the retail team. "I am confident that Reliance Retail and its leadership team, led by Isha, will deliver exponential growth and become the largest segment within the group," he opines. The 30-year-old Isha Ambani is an alumnus of Yale University. She is married to Anand Piramal, the son of Piramal Group's Ajay and Swati Piramal. Isha is the twin sister of Akash.
Anant Ambani, 27, did his graduation from Brown University in Rhode Island. Apart from RIL's New Energy Business, Anant is also actively involved in the Indian Premier League in which the company owns the Mumbai Indians team.
Mukesh Ambani says Reliance is forever hungry for top-notch talent from India and around the world. "We already have professionals representing over 60 nationalities, and this pool of young talent will become even larger and deeper as our businesses become bigger and more global."
The interest in Mukesh Ambani's succession plan for his children stems from the bitter feud he and his brother Anil Ambani, the chairman of Reliance ADAG group, went through when their father passed away in 2002, without leaving a will. The tycoon is clearly thinking ahead of time and wants to ensure a smooth transition.