(This story originally appeared in TOI on Jul 05, 2021)
MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Anant Ambani, the younger son of Reliance Industries (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani, has been appointed as a director of Reliance New Energy Solar and Reliance New Solar Energy, expanding his role in the family business. The two entities were incorporated a little over a fortnight before unveiled its green energy plans at its annual shareholder meet on June 24.
In February this year, Anant, 26, was inducted as a director of Reliance O2C, where Saudi Aramco is expected to be an investor, and a year before that, he was appointed on the board of Jio Platforms, where his siblings Isha and Akash too are members. RIL didn’t respond to a questionnaire from TOI.
While Mukesh Ambani, 64, hasn’t yet spelt out succession planning at RIL, questions like ‘who’s next?’ have started popping up within the investor community. In Ambani’s own case, after the death of his father, RIL founder Dhirubhai Ambani, in 2002, there was a feud over succession between him and his brother Anil.
Dhirubhai had not left a will and the family business had to be split, with Mukesh gaining RIL (oil refining and petrochemicals) and Anil getting the energy, finance and telecom units as part of the settlement.
Besides Jio Platforms, Isha and Akash, the 29-year-old twins, are on the board of Reliance Retail Ventures. Both Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail Ventures had attracted billions of dollars in investments and brought on board global names such as Google, Facebook, Silver Lake and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to help expand their digital and e-commerce footprint.
With Anant’s latest board appointments, all the three children now have representation in RIL’s key businesses. After the recent separation of the refining and petrochemicals unit to Reliance O2C, RIL looks similar to Tata Sons, the holding company of Tata Group’s diverse businesses. RIL is also paving the way for initial public offerings of Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail Ventures, which are expected to take place in the near future.
Apart from Reliance New Energy Solar and Reliance New Solar Energy, RIL incorporated five other entities since June — Reliance New Energy Storage, Reliance Solar Projects, Reliance Storage, Reliance New Energy Carbon Fibre and Reliance New Energy Hydrogen Electrolysis. Their names indicate that the entities were established for the clean energy game.
All the seven companies have three directors each. A common director in all these entities is Shanker Natarajan.
At the annual shareholder meeting last month, Ambani said that RIL will invest Rs 75,000 crore in clean energy over three years, but details about how it intends to execute the green play have not been disclosed. RIL’s renewable power move comes more than a decade after Mukesh and Anil cancelled all non-compete business agreements between them.