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Mukesh Ambani steps down as director of Reliance Jio, son Akash takes over as chairman

Mukesh Ambani’s son, Akash Ambani, was named chairman of the board at Reliance Jio on Tuesday, signaling a transition in leadership for one of the world’s wealthiest business families. Akash Ambani, 30, previously a non-executive director at Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., was appointed chairman a day after his father resigned, the company said in an exchange filing. Mukesh Ambani will remain chairman of Jio Platforms Ltd., the flagship company that owns all Jio digital services brands including Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Tuesday’s announcement marked the first instance in which Mukesh Ambani formally took a backseat; last year he indicated his children would take on more responsibilities.

Akash Ambani was part of the teams that negotiated investment into Jio’s parent firm by Meta Platforms Inc., formerly known as Facebook Inc., besides leading other key acquisitions.

“This is another clear signal Mukesh Ambani is taking the next step of redefining his involvement with the group,” Kavil Ramachandran, professor and executive director at the Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise, at the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business, told Reuters.

“I hope he has taken care to make this successful by strengthening the team around Akash.”

Akash Ambani’s elevation comes as the Reliance group – for years fuelled by profits from fossil fuels – is pivoting toward consumer offerings.

Jio has shaken up India’s telecom industry since its 2016 debut, when cheap data triggered a price war that forced some rivals out of the market and turned profits into losses.

Since then Jio – which started out offering mobile teleservices – has been aggressively investing in services like internet broadband and forging ties with handset makers to launch low-cost smartphones and providing 5G services.

Mukesh Ambani’s succession plan

For years, Mukesh Ambani has studied the ways in which billionaire families – from the Waltons to the Kochs – passed on to the next generation what they’d built.

Recently, that process has intensified; Bloomberg last year reported Mukesh Ambani was eyeing a blueprint to ensure his empire – worth over $200 billion – is not ripped apart in succession warfare.

Akash Ambani is an alumnus of the United States’ Brown University where he studied economics.

He married his childhood sweetheart, Shloka Mehta – the daughter of a Mumbai-based diamond trader and jeweler – in a lavish affair in March 2019 and the couple had a son, Prithvi, in 2020. Hindustan Times

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