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Anil declares war on Mukesh
December 27, 2004 10:51 IST
Last Updated: December 27, 2004 12:04 IST
Declaring a war against elder brother Mukesh, Reliance Industries Ltd Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Anil Ambani on Monday lashed out at the proposed buyback of shares, ahead of the crucial board meeting, questioning the intentions of the move.
"There is more than what meets the eye," Anil said in a surprise move before entering the flagship company's headquarters at Maker Chambers here to participate in the 12-member board meeting.
Severely criticising the decision to hold the board meeting for the buyback, Anil said: "I was not consulted or informed about the decision before they informed the stock exchanges."
This is for the first time that Anil has launched a direct attack on the happenings in RIL ever since the proxy war between the Ambani siblings started more than a month back after Mukesh said there were some 'ownership issues' in the Reliance Group founded by his father, late Dhirubhai Ambani.
Reacting strongly, the Mukesh Ambani camp termed as "selfish" the statement of Anil, saying: "The buyback scheme was appreciated widely as a move to boost investors confidence and protect the rights of shareholders."
Sources close to Mukesh Ambani said Anil's opposition to the buyback is a proof that his interests are in complete variance with those of the shareholders. He wants his personal issues to be settled first at the cost of shareholders, they added
Taken aback by Anil's criticism a day before the late Dhirubhai's birth anniversary, they said the RIL headquarters was being flooded by telephone calls from shareholders subsequent to the younger Ambani's opposition to the buyback of shares.
Driving his Land Rover, Anil stepped out before the waiting mediapersons at the company headquarters and questioned the appropriateness of the buyback proposal at a time when several other serious issues need to be addressed.
Justifying his move, he quoted a Chinese philosopher to say the 'objective of a war is peace.'
"And to this I would add two more elements -- dignity and above all self-respect."
Commenting on the company's scrip on the bourses, Anil said: "If you look at the recent run up at the stock prices after the announcement of buyback, I believe there is more than that meets the eye in terms of what is happening in the market place."
It is for the first time in the history of corporate India that a vice chairman and managing director of a company is questioning the buyback proposal of the firm just before the board meeting and after the announcement of the proposal in terms of appropriateness, while hinting at some behind the curtain moves.
According to market analysts, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India would have to look into the entire gamut of RIL buyback, including in terms of insider trading and price manipulation.
Anil said: "I believe considering a buyback at this stage is completely inappropriate as there are several serious issues that the company faces which need to be looked at."
Invoking the legacy of Dhirubhai, Anil said: "The Reliance group was a dream of my father and is a tribute to India and it is people and I would endeavour to protect and enhance his legacy."
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