Ambani brothers will avoid split

Tuesday, 23 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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AHMEDABAD: The Ambani brothers, who head the Mumbai-based Reliance group, will improve their relations and avoid splitting India's largest private sector conglomerate, a leading business historian said Monday.

"Even if the relations between Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani are not at their best, they will try to mend their ties," Dwijendra Tripathi, an acknowledged pioneer in the study of India's business history, said.

"They are both very much attached to the memory of their late father Dhirubhai as well as mother Kokilaben," Tripathi, who taught at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, told IANS in an interview.

The historian - whose books include "The oxford history of Indian Business" and "Business Houses of Western India" - was reacting to a remark by Mukesh Ambani last week where he said there were "ownership issues" in Reliance.

The elder of the two brothers, 47-year-old Mukesh, who is chairman of Reliance Industries, subsequently clarified his stand Monday and said his remarks to a television channel were torn out of context.

Tripathi, who has also authored "Business and Politics in India - A Historical Perspective," said that the reports of differences at the top of the biggest corporate house in the country had actually surprised him.

"Earlier the impression was that a split in the third generation may not be ruled out, but this is only the second generation," he said, adding it was premature to say if the Reliance group was indeed heading for a split.

"The legendary Dhirubhai had a dream of building the biggest industrial house in the country. As both the brothers relate personally to that dream, they will do everything possible to make Reliance stay right at the top," he added.

Tripathi noted that the Reliance group could continue to hold the top slot with a distribution of responsibilities between the two brothers.

"Some of the group companies can be handled by Mukesh Ambani, while others can be handled by Anil Ambani. That way, the group can continue to have a common identity," Tripathi said.

In some ways such an arrangement is already in place, at least for the two firms set up or acquired after Dhirubhai died in July 2002 - Mukesh heads Reliance Infocomm, while Anil, 45, takes care of Reliance Energy, a power firm.

Giving an example, Tripathi noted that Ahmedabad-based textiles major Lalbhai group made a smooth transition across generations by precisely by adopting a similar strategy.

Source: IANS
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