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|December 6, 1999||
Dhirubhai Ambani voted 'Indian Businessman of the Century'
Dhirubhai Ambani, chairman, the Reliance group, has been voted the "Indian Businessman of the Century" by a worldwide multimedia poll conducted between August and October 1999 by Business Barons magazine.
BB hails Ambani as representing "Asian business at its best: bold, visionary, technology-minded and entrepreneurially daring."
The results of the poll will feature in the forthcoming issue of the magazine. The poll, which received over 41,000 valid votes from as far away as North America and Australia, selected Ambani as the leader from a list of ten nominations. Ambani received the maximum number of votes 10,142 or about 25 per cent of the total valid votes polled.
Reflecting on the results, Ambani said: "I owe my success and achievements to the affection, friendship and trust of millions of employees, customers, shareholders, and business associates, who have stood by me and been a major source of strength all along."
"My fulfilment lies in the satisfaction of every member of the Reliance family, comprising thousands of workers, managers, business associates, and over five million shareholders. Being instrumental in creating wealth for over five million Indian families, and bringing prosperity and well-being to their life is the deepest source of satisfaction and joy for me."
The feature compares Ambani's achievements to some of the greatest business initiatives in the industrial history of the world.
"It is an achievement that ranks alongside -- indeed perhaps outranks -- Henry Ford's founding in the early 20th century of Ford Motor Company and Bill Gates's founding in the 1970s of Microsoft. Both Ford and Gates had inherent advantages: greater resources when they began their careers, no redtape and a developed industrial infrastructure and markets. Dhirajlal Ambani had nothing except that extraordinary fire which lit his every move and eventually led him to build a formidable, globally competitive industrial machine," the magazine noted.
The magazine also compares Ambani with runner-up J R D Tata. "Comparisons are odious but in their own way JRD and Ambani are giants of equal stature. Tata was a meticulous accretioner of companies. Ambani is an executioner of dreams so big that others were afraid to even dream them."
The feature identifies four qualities of Ambani as underlying his blistering climb to the top -- self-reliance, speed, size and sales.
He built a 10,000 tonnes per annum plant with a built-in provision for a further 15,000 tonnes when the entire Indian market for polyester filament yarn was only 6,000 tonnes per annum. His vision was also reflected in his pioneering of equity cult in India, and developing the Indian capital markets.
The magazine has written about the global competitiveness of the assets created by him: Now, after eight years of economic liberalisation when competition in the marketplace is most intense, Reliance is comfortably placed. As several Korean chaebols and Japan's conglomerates took a tumble during the turbulent 1990s, Reliance stood like a rock, defying recession and petrochemicals prices.
Talking about future growth at Reliance, Ambani said, "In the early-2000s, the Reliance group will emerge as a net forex earner with multifold growth in exports and will be the top manufacturer-exporter from India."
The poll conducted and featured by BB collected votes through different media forms distributed to corporate managers, forms attached to the magazine and responses received electronically on the magazine's Website.
Ambani was born in 1932 in Chorwad, a village in Saurashtra, in Gujarat State, India.
The Reliance group has grown rapidly over the last two decades from next to nothing in 1977, when the group's flagship Reliance Industries went public for the first time. The Reliance group is currently the largest Indian business group in terms of market capitalisation, assets, net worth and profits, with a total asset base of Rs 430.22 billion (US $10.14 billion) as of March 31, 1999.
The poll rated the top ten Indian businessman of the century. Ambani (10,142 votes), J R D Tata (9,126), G D Birla (4,940), Aditya Birla (3,855), Jamnalal Bajaj (3,717), Ratan Tata (3,450), N R Narayana Murthy (1,812), Azim Premji (1,710), Walchand Hirachand (1,501) and Kasturbhai Lalbhai (1,304).
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