Company To Watch: Reliance Industries/India
Mumbai-based Reliance Industries, ’s largest private-sector company, has spun off its power, telecom, financial services and natural resources units to settle a feud in the Ambani family, which holds a 34% stake. The petrochemicals and energy conglomerate is led by Mukesh Ambani, the elder son of Dhirubhai Ambani, who built up the group by keeping costs and prices low to increase volume. Dhirubhai died intestate in July 2002, leaving Mukesh and his younger brother Anil to fight for control of Reliance’s multi-billion-dollar businesses.
Mukesh and Anil buried the hatchet last year in a deal brokered by their mother. Mukesh was left in charge of the core assets of Reliance, including its oil exploration, refining, petrochemicals and textiles businesses. Anil will lead the units being de-merged.
Reliance, which owns the world’s third-largest oil refinery, is expanding into retail gasoline sales and already has 1,000 gas stations along ’s newly constructed highways.
The company is preparing to move deeper into the retail sector by creating huge shopping and entertainment malls to cater to ’s growing ranks of middle-class shoppers. As the government studies a proposal to allow overseas ownership in the retail sector, Reliance is making an early move.