How The Ambanis Became The Second-Richest Family In Asia

The list of the wealthiest families in Asia is out and the Ambani family is the richest of them all. Dhirubhai Ambani’s sons Mukesh and Anil took over the business started by their father in 1957 – Reliance Industries and built it in a huge way. The Ambani family actually has assets of $ 76 billion. This is also Mukesh Ambani’s personal net worth. The last few years have been interesting for the Ambani brothers, it is sure. Due to several poor business moves, Anil Ambani has a net worth of $ 0. On the other hand, Mukesh owns the largest oil refining complex in the world, is bringing affordable internet to the rural areas of India, and lives in a 27-storey mansion in Mumbai, considered to be the world’s most expensive private residence. What’s even more shocking about Mukesh’s net worth is that just seven years ago, when we first wrote about becoming the richest man in India, he was “just” $ 18 billion. Two years ago, the Ambani family (Anil had not lost all his money yet) was valued at $ 43.4 billion.

Mukesh and Anil Ambani are children of Dhirubhai Ambani, who founded Reliance Industries in the same year when Mukesh was born. In 2002, Pitru Paksha died without a will and the two brothers began a bitter struggle over the family empire. It was basically a war between the brothers for several years until his mother Kokilaben made a move. Mukesh got Reliance’s oil, textile and refining business. Anil got Reliance’s telecom, entertainment, and asset management division. Peace was restored in the Ambani family.

Anil and Mukesh Ambani (via STR / AFP Getty Image)

Mukesh has built his Reliance divisions into vast kingdoms. He has taken to the oil and energy fields which he has inherited and grown in the past. He opened 700 grocery stores serving millions of citizens of India. He spent $ 35 billion to start Jio Infocomm and bring the first 4G wireless network in India. More importantly, Jio brought broadband to small villages and rural areas where reliable internet was almost non-existent. Even Jio’s 4G network can be found on unpaved roads or villages with indoor plumbing. It costs just $ 2.10 a month. Mukesh reached the internet to 1.3 billion people. Mukesh did not allow losses while moving his oil, gas, petrochemical and textile manufacturing businesses to new areas.

On the other hand, Anil has faced very bad luck in recent years. While Mukesh was building and expanding his businesses, Anil was running in the field. Anil tied up so much debt that he had to start selling his assets to allay the concerns of his investors. He took a loan to develop his company. His debt ratio led India’s banks to have one of the worst debt ratios in the world. At its peak, Anil’s debt was $ 210 billion. Reliance Naval and Engineering are the worst performers in their portfolio. He bought the company in 2015, believing that the defense industry would grow significantly. It did not happen. Reliance Power, Ltd. Failing for over a decade. Reliance Capital has also not performed well. However, this was not even Anil’s biggest problem: he would be his brother.

Mukesh has Reliance’s major oil business, while Anil has Reliance Communications. This was the real cash cow of his portfolio. At least until Mukesh started Jio Infocomm which sparked a price war with Reliance Communications. When competition could not take place, Anil had to sell his fiber-optic network. Mukesh bought it through Jio. Anil sold most of his assets to focus on a new real estate venture. His net worth increased from several billion dollars a few years ago to $ 0 today. Oh, and he almost went to jail for not paying his debts. The elder brother Mukesh paid a loan of $ 80 million to keep his younger brother out of jail.

Now, back to Mukesh’s 27-storey mansion. The Ambani house is named after the ancient island of Antilia in the Atlantic Ocean. The 400,000-square-foot house is valued at $ 1 billion. Mukesh, his wife and their three grown children live there. The roof has a landing pad for three helicopters. The six floors are a parking garage for 168 cars. The house has more than 600 full-time employees.

A fun fact about the Ambani family’s wealth: Beyoncé and Chris Martin have given private performances at Ambani family weddings. Must be good

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