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Anil's GSM venture comes under 'attack'

BS Bureau in Kolkata | December 25, 2004 18:04 IST

Upset at the criticism of Reliance Infocomm's performance, the Mukesh Ambani camp is pointing fingers at the performance of Reliance Telecom, the GSM-based mobile telephone venture launched by Anil Ambani some years ago.

"The contrast between the two is amazing -- Reliance Telecom is nowhere in the picture even though it was set up at a time when the group's other projects in the refining and oil sector were commissioned with conspicuous success, while Reliance Infocomm is one of the sector frontrunners," sources in the Mukesh Ambani side said.

Sources in the Anil Ambani camp refused to comment on the issue. According to latest data posted on the Cellular Operators Association of India website, Reliance Telecom had 9,95,153 subscribers at the end of November 2004 against Reliance Infocomm's 87,27,594 subscribers.

The Reliance 'ownership issue'

The harsh criticism of Reliance Telecom represents a more recent effort by the Mukesh Ambani side to take on the media onslaught mounted by the Anil Ambani side.

Though the track record of the two Ambani brothers has been dug up in the past in the on-going battle, specific group failures have not been focussed on.

Sources said the current wave of criticism against Reliance Infocomm comes at a time when the group is working to develop its revenues from services and knowledge-based industries through investments in world-class telecom and the global energy, communications and life sciences sectors.

"Reliance Infocomm was set up and commissioned in 30 months flat and more phases are to be rolled out, while the global search for properties in the energy, communications and life sciences space continues," said the source.

Every effort will be made to ensure that ongoing initiatives like the professionalisation of management, development of non-manufacturing revenues, and investments in emerging opportunities in telecom and life sciences, all currently under Mukesh Ambani, are not derailed, the source added.

"Building or acquisition of world-class facilities necessarily had a longer gestation period and required sustained investments over a time span but was entirely in keeping with the way Reliance had developed its business under Dhirubhai Ambani and, after his demise, under the current chairman", the source commented.

"When most bidders went in for a few oil and gas blocks, Reliance went ahead and bid for all the blocks in keeping with this vision. So the criticism is misplaced", the source pointed out.

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