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Ambani truce hopes recede
BS Corporate Bureau in Mumbai | November 30, 2004 08:27 IST
Hopes of a settlement between Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani and vice-chairman and managing director Anil Ambani seem to have receded with both brothers broadly sticking to their positions.
Several mediators and "well-wishers", as a senior Reliance Industries executive put it, have been meeting both brothers. These include Ramesh Oza, a long-time Ambani guru.
But the brothers themselves have not formally met to sort out the problem. According to the Reliance Industries executive, Mukesh Ambani will not negotiate on his chairmanship or control of Reliance Industries.
"The question of negotiating on Reliance Industries does not arise at all because Mukesh Ambani controls the investment companies which control Reliance Industries," the executive said, adding, "This is the legacy of Dhirubhai Ambani -- the Reliance chairman controls the investment companies."
But according to another informed source, Anil Ambani is said to be in a combative mood and bent on raising at the Reliance Industries board its decision to vest with Mukesh Ambani sole responsibility for all financial and investment decisions.
That seems unacceptable to Mukesh Ambani who, it is said, will not reach out for a settlement so long as Anil Ambani wants to raise this issue at the board meeting. Said the Reliance Industries executive: "If the finance minister wants the superior authority of the prime minister, that is not desirable."
At one stage last week, there had been speculation that Anil Ambani would like to see his mother Kokilaben as chairman, with his brother as executive chairman, but this was dismissed as speculation by a source close to Mukesh Ambani, who argued that the women in the Ambani family would never play an active role on Reliance company boards.
Another key issue seems to be Reliance Industries' stake in Reliance Energy. Asked whether Mukesh Ambani would consider transferring Reliance Industries' approximately 51 per cent stake in Reliance Energy to Anil Ambani, the official said: "That holds the key to a settlement. If Mukesh Ambani is willing to do so, how much Anil Ambani should pay for these shares is the issue."
At one stage late last week, a source close to Anil Ambani had said that he was looking at going to court. But that statement could have been meant to issue a warning to the Mukesh Ambani side.Going to court will be the last resort and as yet that point does not seem to have been reached.