Reliance appoints Ambani's children to board in succession plan

Mukesh Ambani will lead Reliance Industries for five more years and groom and mentor his children to take the $200 billion Indian oil-to-telecom giant to greater heights of growth and value in the decades ahead.

As part of the succession plan, Reliance Industries appointed Ambani's children -- Isha, Akash and Anant -- as non-executive directors to the board, while wife Nita steps down from the board to focus on the Reliance Foundation charity. She will continue to attend all board meetings as a permanent invitee.

"Together with the board and all my longtime colleagues, I shall further enrich Reliance’s unique institutional culture, which has sustained your company’s perpetual and exponential growth," said Ambani, Asia's richest man, at the company's annual general meeting Monday. "I shall groom and empower all the next-gen leaders at Reliance and prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of the future."

The update is part of Ambani's attempt to give the market an indication that he has prepared for a smooth transition at the firm, which grappled with a messy and publicly bitter separation two decades ago after the death of founder Dhirubhai Ambani. Dhirubhai died without a will, prompting to a clash between his children Mukesh and Anil.

"This is truly an emotional moment for me because it reminds of that day in 1977, when my father inducted me into the board of directors of Reliance. I was only 20 then. Today I see both my father and me in Isha, Akash and Anant. I see the flame of Dhirubhai shine in all of them. They have fully internalised the founder’s mindset," Ambani said.

The early signs of the succession planning have been apparent in recent years with 66-year-old Ambani promoting his children to lead many of the empire's businesses. Akash leads the digital business, Jio Platforms, whereas his twin sister Isha helms Reliance Retail. Anant leads the new energy business.

Jio Platforms is the nation's largest telecom operator, with over 450 million subscribers. In 2020, the Reliance unit raised $20 billion from the likes of Meta, Google, Intel and Qualcomm. Reliance Retail, the country's largest retail chain with more than 18,500 stores, has raised over $7 billion since 2020 and continues to see "strong interest" from private investors, Ambani said.

"Isha Ambani, Akash Ambani and Anant Ambani have been closely involved with and are leading and managing key businesses of RIL over the last few years including retail, digital services and energy and materials businesses," the company said in a statement.

"They also serve on the boards of the key subsidiaries of RIL. Their appointment to the Board of RIL will enable RIL to gain from their insights and infuse new ideas, the Board opined."