Mukesh Ambani Flags Off Succession, Anointing Son Akash Ambani Chairman Of Reliance Jio Infocomm
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Asian tycoons tend to be laggards when it comes to passing on the baton, but Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has commenced the handover at age 65. This week, Ambani stepped down from his position as chairman and director of Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecom unit of Reliance Industries, according to the company’s filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

His eldest son Akash Ambani, 30, took over as chairman of the board of directors. Ambani, however, will continue to be the chairman of Jio Platforms, the parent company of Reliance Jio Infocomm that owns all Jio digital services brands.

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Fellow billionaire and industrialist Harsh Goenka says, “Mukesh has created a clear succession path, which he’s now putting into place.”

U.S.-educated Akash, who is often seen at cricket matches rooting for the Reliaince-owned Mumbai Indians cricket team, has worked at Reliance since completing undergrad studies in economics at Brown University. He got involved with Jio at an early stage prior to its launch in 2016. It now has more than 400 million subscribers and is getting ready for an IPO. In 2014, at age 22, Akash got a board seat at Jio, a move that was then criticized by some as being premature.

Since then, Akash’s involvement in the company has increased and he’s led the string of acquisitions made by Jio in recent years. He is also believed to have played a role in helping his father in securing marquee investors such as Google and Facebook acquiring stakes in Jio during the pandemic.

Jio’s board simultaneously approved the appointment of company veteran Pankaj Pawar as managing director, which signals that Ambani is likely to follow the model of appointing professionals to run group companies with family members having oversight.

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Reliance observers expect that Ambani’s daughter Isha, who joined the board of Reliance Retail eight years ago, may get a similar role as her twin brother but on the retail side. She’s married to Anand, the only son of pharma billionaire Ajay Piramal. Ambani’s youngest son Anand, 27, is expected to be placed in charge of the legacy businesses of petrochemicals.

With annual revenue of $105 billion, Reliance was ranked at No. 54 in the Forbes 2022 Top Global 2000 list. Starting out as a small textile manufacturer, the company’s businesses span petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecom, retail, materials, entertainment and digital services. Lately it has been expanding its overseas footprint, such as the acquisition of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York. Recently, Reliance was among the bidders for drugstore chain Boots, owned by the U.S.-listed Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). However, WBA in its statement on Tuesday said it has decided not to sell the company.

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