Mukesh Ambani: The Indian magnate who dances with Beyoncé | Economy

Mukesh Ambani: The Indian magnate who dances with Beyoncé | Economy



Beyoncé landed a few weeks ago in India to participate in one of the few recitals that the pop diva has given in the Asian country and attended by, among others, former Democratic White House candidate Hilary Clinton, businesswoman Arianna Huffington and Bollywood celebrities. The event, inaccessible to the hundreds of millions of fans of the overpopulated subcontinent, was only a select group of personalities and friends invited to the wedding reception of Isha Ambani. Both the bride and the money wasted to pay for the splendors were unknown. Nothing that worries who runs the expenses: his father, Mukesh Ambani, and since last July the richest magnate in Asia.

The more than 37,500 million euros of the seventeenth billionaire in the world, according to Forbes, are not a flower of a day. Born in Yemen 61 years ago and the son of a modest Indian merchant, Mukesh left Stanford to move to India and help his father in the family business: a small, rapidly growing textile and polyester manufacturing company that soon settled in India. Petrochemical industry. In the nineties, the consolidated Reliance made the final leap to telecommunications thanks to Mukesh and his brother Anil, leaders and millionaires of one of the conglomerates called to champion the India of the 21st century.

Family war

In a society linked to family tradition –like the Gandhi before and now the Tata-, the Ambani dynasty experienced its particular fratricidal war at the beginning of the new millennium. After the disappearance of the father, who died without clarifying the terms of his estate, his successors were confronted by the business legacy until the mother decided Solomonic. The eldest, Mukesh, inherited the petrochemical exploration, refinery and marketing, along with the largest distillery in the world. The youngest, Anil, continued with the financial, infrastructure and telecommunications business. Far from the forecast of growth of the Indian economy driven by communication technologies, the latter saw how the value of their companies fell on the stock market by 17% in the last decade, while the fortune of the older brother grew exponentially thanks to a play that revolutionized the Indian telecommunications market.

Born in Yemen, his father laid the foundations of the family empire with the textile business

"For Reliance, the data is the new fuel. And the smart data, the new oil, "Mukesh Ambani said in early 2016, when he created a start-up that would quickly become a national digital emporium, Reliance Jio, extending its tentacles from mobile telephony to domestic entertainment. Months after the delivery, his smartphone was the third best seller in India and its telecommunications network unleashed a price war with the rest of the operators offering almost free high-speed Internet connection, free local calls and zero-rupees. Two years later, the company, which began charging for data transmission in 2017, had transformed the local market into the world's largest broadband consumer by connecting 227 million users in rural India and making their business profitable. Only between last July and September, Reliance Lio invoiced for a value of 1,357 million euros. Thanks to the success of Mukesh, his brother Anil has been selling his telecommunications assets to focus on the real estate sector.

Ambani's decision attracted millions of potential users by cheapening access to smartphones while satisfying the hunger of consumers who could barely access the high speed supposedly provided by the rest of operators in a market that experiences the avalanche of 500 million new Internet users in the most remote corners of India. But this is not the latest movement of Reliance, which plans to break into electronic commerce in the same way as Asian Alibaba. Just days before Ambani surpassed Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese group, as the richest magnate in Asia, the Indian announced that he will follow in the footsteps of Amazon and Walmart. Thus, your dean distribution company will join the new Jio to enter Indian digital commerce; a market with a value of 26,500 million euros that is expected to expand to 176,500 million in the next decade, according to Morgan Stanley.

The 'Jio effect'

The appearance of the company – known as the Jio effect – coincided with the Government's decision to carry out the first "demonetization" of the economy in the history of the country. The illegalization of the highest denomination banknotes in circulation forced them to deposit them in banks in a country with a serious problem of black money. Unlike other tycoons accused of benefiting from the measure, there is no suspicion of laundering the risky investment of Mukesh's telecommunications group, whose curriculum is scarcely tainted by an indictment for an irregular rise in gas prices. A rare avis in India, which in the last decade has seen both the proliferation of millionaires and their transformation into fugitives. This is the case of Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya, both fled to the United Kingdom on criminal charges.

Although from the same generation of the so-called bollygarcas – a mix of Bollywood, the Indian film industry, and oligarchs – Ambani enjoys a good reputation among his fellow citizens and has no intention of leaving India or his home in Bombay, where the construction of the most expensive mansion in the world.

With a value close to 1,000 million euros, the 27-storey house has all imaginable facilities, including three heliports. The palace contrasts with the adjacent district of Kamathipura, the city's red-light district and one of the most crowded suburbs of India's most populated and unequal megalopolis. With more square meters than the Palace of Versailles, the ostentatious address of Mukesh hardly welcomes four members of the Ambani family, but it will be a little emptier after the wedding and departure of his daughter, who was behind the idea of ​​the Jio effect. , according to Ambani himself.

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