Mumbai: Mukesh Ambani said he will spend the next five years of his chairmanship of India's most valuable company grooming his children to transform Reliance Industries Ltd. into a digital and green energy behemoth.
The three children of Asia's richest man were appointed as non-executive directors, while his wife, Nita, will step down from the board, "to devote more of her time to the Reliance Foundation" charity where she serves as founding chairperson, the company said in a statement on Monday. During Reliance's annual general meeting, Ambani told shareholders that Nita will still continue to attend all board meetings as a permanent invitee.
Reliance's shares erased earlier gains in Mumbai trading and were down 1% at the close, the lowest since July 7.
"I shall continue to perform my duties and responsibilities as chairman and managing director for five more years, with greater vigour," Ambani said. "I shall groom and empower all the next-gen leaders at Reliance and prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of the future."
The board moves are part of 66-year-old Ambani's wider attempts to give a clear future leadership plan for the oil-to-consumer conglomerate after a messy family power struggle following the death of his father more than a decade ago. Three years ago Ambani outlined the deepening role of his children, Isha, Akash and Anant in the business, handing over leadership positions to them at Reliance's key energy, retail and digital services businesses.
"I shall especially mentor Akash, Isha and Anant so that they can provide collective leadership and dependably take Reliance to greater heights of growth and value in the decades ahead," Ambani said.
Reliance's founder, Dhirubhai Ambani, died without a will in 2002, triggering an ugly and very public clash between Mukesh and his younger brother, Anil, who were both involved in the business at that time. The tussle eventually snowballed and their mother was forced to intervene and divvy up the businesses between the two brothers.
Ambani has since built Reliance into India's largest company by market value and is now attempting to diversify the oil-to-chemicals powerhouse into consumer and technology businesses, as well as renewable energy.
The tycoon called the leadership announcements "an emotional moment," recalling the days when his father set up the company in a single-room office in a crowded Mumbai market place.
"It reminds of that day in 1977, when my father inducted me into the board of directors," he said during the once-a-year speech to investors, which has over time evolved into an eagerly-awaited platform for announcing new initiatives at India's largest corporate, akin to Warren Buffett's annual letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. "Today I see both my father and me in Isha, Akash, and Anant."