19 April 1957 (age 61)
Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani (born 19 April 1957) is an Indian business magnate, the chairman, managing director, and the largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a Fortune Global 500 company and India’s most valuable company by its market value.
Mukesh was born in Aden, Yemen and brought up in Mumbai, India. He received his degree in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology in the early 1970s. Mukesh started working alongside his father Dhirubhai Ambani in their family business, Reliance, since 1981. Reliance Industries Limited deals mainly in refining, petrochemicals, and in the oil and gas sectors. Reliance Retail Ltd., another subsidiary, is the largest retailer in India. The business has expanded over the years to provide products and services like Retail Markets and Telecommunications. Reliance’s Jio has earned a top five spot in the country’s telecommunication services since its public launch on 5 September 2016.
As of 2016, Ambani was ranked 38 and has consistently held the title of being India’s richest person on the Forbes magazine’s list for the past ten years. He is the only Indian businessman on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful people.As of January 2018, Mukesh Ambani was ranked by Forbes as the 18th-wealthiest person in the world. He surpassed Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, to become Asia’s richest person with a net worth of $44.3 billion in July 2018. He is also the wealthiest person in the world outside North America and Europe.As of 2015, Ambani ranked fifth among India’s philanthropists, according to China’s Hurun Research Institute.
Through Reliance, he also owns the Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians. In 2012, Forbes named him one of the richest sports owners in the world. He resides at the Antilia Building, one of the world’s most expensive private residences with its value reaching $1 billion.
Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani was born on 19 April 1957 to Dhirubhai Ambani and Kokilaben Ambani in Aden, Yemen. He has three siblings, a younger brother, Anil Ambani and two sisters Dipti Salgaoncar and Nina Kothari.
Mukesh lived briefly in Yemen after his father decided to move back to India in 1958. His family moved from Yemen to India so that his father can start a business in trading spices which later shifted to a business in textiles originally named “Vimal” but later changed to “Only Vimal.” The Ambani family lived in a modest two-bedroom apartment in Bhuleshwar, Mumbai until the 1970s. Life was initially hard for the Ambanis when they moved to India because Mukesh had to live in a communal society, use public transportation, and never received an allowance. Dhirubhai later purchased a 14-floor apartment block called ‘Sea Wind’ in Colaba, where, until recently, Mukesh and Anil lived with their families on different floors.
Mukesh and his siblings were loosely monitored by their father and more by Mahendrabhai, who was their caretaker, during their childhood years. Growing up Mukesh played all kinds of sports like football and hockey, enjoyed annual trips to villages, and explored the different areas of Bombay, which is now renamed to Mumbai, all under the supervision of Mahendrabhai. Dhirubhai cared very little about Mukesh’s grades, but he cared more so about his all-around performance.
He attended the Hill Grange High School at Peddar Road, Mumbai, along with his brother and where Anand Jain, his close associate, was his classmate. He received his BE degree in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology(UDCT), Matunga. Mukesh later enrolled for an MBA at Stanford University but withdrew in 1980 to help his father build Reliance, which at the time was still a small but a fast growing enterprise. Dhirubhai believed that real life skills were harnessed through experiences and not by sitting in a classroom, so he called Mukesh back to India from Stanford to take command of a yarn manufacturing project in his company. Professors like William F. Sharpe and Man Mohan Sharma during Mukesh’s college years, had an impact on him because they are “the kinds of professors who made you think out of the box.”
1980s – 1990s
In 1980, the Indian government under Indira Gandhi opened PFY (polyester filament yarn) manufacturing to the private sector. Dhirubhai Ambani applied for a licence to set up a PFY manufacturing plant. Obtaining the licence was a long-drawn-out process requiring a strong connection within the bureaucracy system because the government, at the time, was restricting large-scale manufacturing, making the importation of yarn for the textiles impossible In spite of stiff competition from Tatas, Birlas and 43 others, Dhirubhai was awarded the licence, more commonly addressed as License Raj. To help him build the PFY plant, Dhirubhai pulled his eldest son Mukesh out of Stanford, where he was studying for his MBA, to work with him in the company. Mukesh then continued to work for Reliance and did not return to his university program after that. He led Reliance’s backward integration, where companies own their suppliers to generate more revenue and improve efficiency, in 1981 from textiles into polyester fibers and further into petrochemicals, which the yarns were made from.After joining the company with his father, Rasikbhai Meswani, who was the executive director at the time, was held responsible for Mukesh. Mukesh had been given the opportunity to contribute to the company from his first day where he would daily report to Rasikbhai and take orders from him. The company was being built from scratch with the principle of everybody contributing to the business and not heavily depend on selected individuals. This principle came into play after Rasikbhai’s death in 1985 along with Dhirubhai suffering a stroke in 1986 when all the responsibility shifted to Mukesh and Anil. Mukesh Ambani set up Reliance Infocomm Limited (now Reliance Communications Limited), which was focused on information and communications technology initiatives. At the age of 24, Mukesh was given charge of the construction of Patalganga petrochemical plant when the company was heavily investing in oil refinery and petrochemicals. Mukesh’s father treated him as a business partner allowing him the freedom to contribute even with little experience.
2000s – Present
On 6 July 2002, Mukesh’s father Dhirubhai died after suffering a second stroke in the span of sixteen years. The death of Dhirubhai elevated tensions between the brothers Mukesh and Anil due to Dhirubhai not leaving a will behind for the distribution of the empire in 2004. Kokilaben, their mother, had to intervene to stop the feud, she conclude that the company will split into two where Mukesh will gain control of Reliance Industries Limited and Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited which was later approved by the Bombay High Court in December 2005.
Ambani directed and led the creation of the world’s largest grassroots petroleum refinery at Jamnagar, India, which had the capacity to produce 660,000 barrels per day (33 million tonnes per year) in 2010, integrated with petrochemicals, power generation, port and related infrastructure. In December 2013 Ambani announced, at the Progressive Punjab Summit in Mohali, the possibility of a “collaborative venture” with Bharti Airtel in setting up digital infrastructure for the 4G network in India. On 18 June 2014, Mukesh Ambani, addressing the 40th AGM of Reliance Industries, said it will invest Rs 1.8 trillion (short scale) across businesses in the next three years and launch 4G broadband services in 2015. In February 2016, Mukesh Ambani-led Jio launched its own 4G smartphone brand named LYF. In June 2016, it was India’s third-largest-selling mobile phone brand. Mukesh’s success gradually increased after the release of the service Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, commonly known as Jio, in September 2016, because of the great quality service it provided to users for cheap which Reliance’s shares increased. During the 40th annual general meeting of RIL, he announced bonus shares in the ratio of 1:1 which is the country’s largest bonus issue in India, and announced the Jio Phone at an effective price of ₹0. As of February 2018, Bloomberg’s “Robin Hood Index” estimated that Ambani’s personal wealth was enough to fund the operations of the Indian federal government for 20 days.
In February 2014, a First Information Report (FIR) alleging criminal offences was filed against Mukesh Ambani for alleged irregularities in the pricing of natural gas from the KG basin. Arvind Kejriwal, who had a short stint as Delhi’s chief minister and had ordered the FIR, has accused various political parties of being silent on the gas price issue. Kejriwal has asked both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi to clear their stand on the gas pricing issue. Kejriwal has alleged that the Centre allowed the price of gas to be inflated to eight dollars a unit though Mukesh Ambani’s company spends only one dollar to produce a unit, which meant a loss of Rs. 540 billion to the country annually.
Member of Board of Governors Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai
Chairman, managing director, Chairman of Finance Committee and Member of Employees Stock Compensation Committee, Reliance Industries Limited
Former chairman, Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited
Former vice-chairman, Reliance Petroleum
Chairman of the board, Reliance Petroleum
Chairman and Chairman of Audit Committee, Reliance Retail Limited.
Chairman, Reliance Exploration and Production DMCC
Former Director, Member of Credit Committee and Member of Compensation & Benefits Committee, Bank of America Corporation
President, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat
Awards and honors
Year of Award or Honor Name of Award or Honor Awarding Organization
2000 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Ernst & Young India
2010 Global Vision Award at The Awards Dinner Asia Society
2010 Business Leader of the Year NDTV India
2010 Businessman of the Year Financial Chronicle
2010 School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean’s Medal University of Pennsylvania
2010 ranked 5th-best performing global CEO Harvard Business Review
2010 Global Leadership Award Business Council for International Understanding
2010 Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Science) M. S. University of Baroda
2013 Millennium Business Leader of the Decade at Indian Affairs India Leadership Conclave Awards 2013) India Leadership Conclave & Indian Affairs Business Leadership Awards
2016 Foreign member, U. S. National Academy of Engineering National Academy of Engineering
2016 Othmer Gold Medal Chemical Heritage Foundation
Mukesh was married to Nita Ambani in 1984 and have two sons, Anant and Akash, and a daughter, Isha. ] They both first met through Mukesh’s father when he attended a dance performance which Nita took part in and carried the idea of arranging Nita and Mukesh’s marriage ever since.
They live in a private 27-storey building in Mumbai named Antilia valued at US $1 billion and was the most expensive residence in the world at the time of being built. The building stands 570 feet tall, requires a staff of 600 for maintenance, includes three helipads, houses a 160 car garage, private movie theater, swimming pool, fitness center, and many more amenities. In 2007 Mukesh had gifted his wife Nita a $60 million dollar private aircraft, Airbus A319, for her 44th birthday. The airbus, which has a capacity of 180 passengers, has been custom-fitted to include a fancy living room, bedroom, satellite television, WiFi, sky bar, Jacuzzi, and an office. Mukesh was titled The World’s Richest Sports Team Owners after his purchase of the IPL cricket team Mumbai Indians for $111.9 million in 2008.
In an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai in March 2017, Mukesh said that his favourite food continued to be idli sambar and his favourite restaurant remains Mysore Café, a restaurant in Kings circle (Mumbai) where he used to eat as a student at UDCT from 1974 to 1979. Mukesh Ambani is a strict vegetarian and teetotaler. He is a very big fan of Bollywood movies where he watches three a week because he says “you need some amount of escapism in life.”
His wife, Nita, describes Mukesh’s nature to be very quiet, modest, and shy. Similar to when Dhirubhai took time out of his busy schedule for his children, Mukesh makes it a top priority to spend quality time with his children and family every Sundays.
During the fiscal year ending 31 March 2012, Mukesh reportedly, decided to forgo nearly ₹240 million from his annual pay as chief of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). He elected to do this even as RIL’s total remuneration packages to its top management personnel increased during that fiscal year. Mukesh Ambani holds a 44.7% stake in the company. This move kept his salary capped at ₹150 million for the fourth year in a row.
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