Bloomberg News

Billionaire Ambanis Dancing at Ancestral Home Signals Thaw

December 29, 2011

(Adds closing share prices in 12th paragraph.)

Dec. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaires Mukesh and Anil Ambani danced and prayed in their ancestral village on the eve of their father’s 80th birth anniversary in the strongest display of bonhomie since ending a feud that split the Reliance empire.

The brothers, who have a combined wealth of $28.5 billion and control the world’s biggest oil refining complex and India’s second-largest phone company, were seen together on Dec. 27 for the first time since they pledged harmony in May 2010. Yesterday, they inaugurated a memorial to the late Dhirajlal Ambani in Chorwad in the western state of Gujarat.

Reliance Communications Ltd., controlled by 52 year-old Anil, climbed to a two-week high on Dec. 27 on speculation that improved sibling relations may help the company clinch a deal to lease mobile-phone towers to Reliance Industries Ltd., run by Mukesh, 54. The elder Ambani operates India’s biggest natural gas field, while Anil needs the fuel for his power plants.

“It will matter to shareholders if it is a business reunion,” said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, strategist at SMC Global Securities Ltd. in New Delhi. “That would be a huge positive rerating opportunity for Anil Ambani group stocks. From Reliance Industries’ perspective, it would be an opportunity to expand their dream of entering into telecom.”

When India’s second-largest business group split in 2005, Mukesh got the Reliance group’s petrochemicals, oil and gas units, while Anil took the power, financial services, telecommunications, and entertainment businesses. Both retained rights to the Reliance name.

Last year the brothers scrapped agreements that prevented them from competing in similar businesses.

Dandiya Dance

Mukesh Ambani and Anil yesterday traveled in separate Mercedes-Benz cars to pray and have breakfast at the local Ambaji Mata temple after spending the previous evening performing the dandiya, a traditional Gujarati folk dance, along with their wives, mother and sister, Bloomberg UTV showed.

The Ambanis attended a discourse on the importance of family values and harmony by Rameshbhai Oza, their spiritual adviser, the Economic Times reported today.

Anil flew in a Reliance Industries helicopter yesterday morning to offer prayers at the ancient Hindu temple of Somnath, Parimal Nathwani, group president for corporate affairs at Reliance Industries, said in an interview in Chorwad yesterday. Security arrangements in the village were managed by the officials from the company’s refinery complex at Jamnagar and 60 local volunteers, he said.

Daljeet Singh, a spokesman for Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance ADA Group, declined to comment.

Brotherly Love

Mukesh and Anil visiting their ancestral home together shows “there is love among the brothers,” the Economic Times cited their mother, Kokila Ambani, saying in Chorwad. The family is “united,” she said, according to a Dec. 27 report.

Reliance Industries shares fell 3.7 percent to 711.9 rupees in Mumbai trading, the lowest since March 20, 2009. Reliance Infrastructure Ltd., the Anil Ambani-controlled builder of a mass rapid transit system in Mumbai, dropped 4 percent to 344.15 rupees and Reliance Communications lost 5.3 percent to 68.1 rupees. the benchmark Sensitive Index declined 1.2 percent.

Shares of Reliance Industries have more than tripled in value since the brothers divided the family business in June 2005. Anil’s flagship Reliance Communications has slumped 78 percent since it started trading in 2006.

$1 Billion Home

Chorwad, a coastal fishing village where Dhirajlal Ambani, known as Dhirubhai, grew up, lies 855 kilometers (530 miles) northwest by road from Mumbai, where Mukesh has built a skyscraper home. The building equipped with helipads and a movie theater cost $1 billion, according to Forbes.

Dhirubhai founded Reliance Commercial Corp. to trade spices and yarn in 1959, the year Anil was born, and built an empire with businesses ranging from textiles to petrochemicals. His two sons fought for control of the group after he died in 2002 without leaving a will. They split the family business three years later in a settlement brokered by their mother.

In the following five years their battle over the price and supply of natural gas from Reliance Industries’ assets halted plans for a north Indian power plant, while a merger between Anil’s Reliance Communications and South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. was scuttled after Mukesh said he had the first right to buy shares in his brother’s company.

“It looks like they’ve reconciled to working together, and that could be the best thing for them individually,” said U.R. Bhat, managing director of Dalton Capital Advisors India Pvt. in Mumbai. “Old wounds can’t completely be healed, but they can be stitched. There’s a scar nevertheless.”

--With assistance from Mark Williams in New Delhi. Editors: Amit Prakash, Abhay Singh

To contact the reporters on this story: Siddharth Philip in Mumbai at sphilip3@bloomberg.net; Ketaki Gokhale in Mumbai at kgokhale@bloomberg.net; Rakteem Katakey in New Delhi at rkatakey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at aprakash1@bloomberg.net; Arijit Ghosh at aghosh@bloomberg.net


Tim Cook's Reboot
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus