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Rediff.com  » Business » Give us 'ABCD': RIL shareholders to Mukesh Ambani

Give us 'ABCD': RIL shareholders to Mukesh Ambani

Last updated on: June 7, 2013 12:30 IST

Give us 'ABCD': RIL shareholders to Mukesh Ambani

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Annual general meetings (AGMs) are colourful affairs. But Reliance Industries' AGMs are known to be more colourful than others.

These meetings have not only been an opportunity for the company's base of middle-class shareholders to meet the first family of India Inc.

It also allows them to discuss the financial metrics of the company and recount their personal experiences with Dhirubhai Ambani, the company's founder. During his times, when equities weren't as popular as they are on Thursday, he was known to give high dividends and bonuses.

However, through the years, a lot has changed.

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Image: Mukesh Ambani (R), chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, poses with his son Akash, daughter Isha (2nd L), wife Nita (C) and mother Kokilaben, before addressing the annual shareholders meeting in Mumbai June 6, 2013.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Give us 'ABCD': RIL shareholders to Mukesh Ambani

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This year, Mukesh Ambani, dressed in a white shirt with a red and white checked tie, and a black coat, walked into the Birla Matoshree auditorium at 10:50 am. He was flanked by wife Nita Ambani, mother Kokilaben Ambani, daughter Isha Ambani and younger son Anant Ambani.

As he went around the auditorium, Ambani shook hands and exchanged greetings with shareholders, who had already prepared a list of questions and demands for the chairman and managing director.

As the company's market capitalisation had declined 16 per cent since June 2011, Ambani had to face a host of demands from shareholders, including those for higher dividends, bonuses and Reliance Retail gift vouchers.

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Image: Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, poses for photographers before addressing the annual shareholders meeting in Mumbai June 6, 2013.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Give us 'ABCD': RIL shareholders to Mukesh Ambani

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The volley of queries ranged from the outlook for the core oil and gas business to that for petrochemicals.

Long-time shareholder and a permanent feature at every Reliance Industries AGM, Ashalata Maheshwari, put it rather poetically, "Aap ko government ne Z security di hai, aap bhi shareholders ko ABCD security dein. A=appreciation; B=bonus, C=cash and D=dividend so that they can also do ABCD (Any Body Can Dance) for you." Ambani smiled.

Unlike the last couple of AGMs, when Ambani lost his temper, his body language was visibly relaxed on Thursday.

However, he gave little to investors. One shareholder lamented the company was neither giving proper dividends, nor bonus. "We could have understood if it were an Anil Ambani firm. But this is Reliance Industries we are talking about," he said.

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Image: Mukesh Ambani.
Photographs: Reuters.

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Give us 'ABCD': RIL shareholders to Mukesh Ambani

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Responding to investor demands, MDA (as Mukesh Ambani is known within the industry), said, "Reliance has rewarded shareholders, as it has completed its investment cycles and shared the prosperity with them. You can be reassured this tradition of investment, growth and rewards to shareholders will continue."

 

Most shareholders sought better dividends and expressed displeasure at the company's satisfactory performance.

 

Suggestions to Mukesh Ambani ranged from forming his own security company in the US and manufacturing pepper spray for women to floating his own political party.

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Image: Mukesh Ambani.
Photographs: Reuters.
Tags: Mukesh Ambani , MDA , RIL , ABCD , US

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Give us 'ABCD': RIL shareholders to Mukesh Ambani

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On the business front, many were keen to know the company's outlook on gas policy and production from the KG-D6 block. Others wanted to know why the company had increased investment in mutual funds and recorded an increase in employee costs of up to 18 per cent.

One shareholder sought to know how the company would generate Rs 1.5 lakh crore to invest in the next three years.

A rather relaxed Ambani listened to the shareholders patiently. However, when a shareholder asked him to multiply his personal wealth by giving higher dividends, he lost his temper. "Please don't make it personal. I take strong objection to this. Please stick to the agenda and do not make it a political meeting. You can come to my office and give me any personal advice," he said.

When the shareholder didn't relent, Ambani said, "I will have to use my chairman's prerogative to stop you."


Image: Mukesh Ambani.
Photographs: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

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