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Anant Ambani’s pre-wedding bash was lavish display of power that attracted global heavyweights including Ivanka Trump and Mark Zuckerberg, but is he losing the race to take over family business?


It was the party to end all parties.

A three-day extravaganza thrown by Asia‘s richest man to celebrate his youngest son’s engagement.

A $6million curtain raiser by Rihanna. A star-studded guest list including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Ivanka Trump – not to mention heads of states, Bollywoods stars, sports icons and rappers.

The ultimate display of wealth and power. Goodness knows what the actual wedding has in store.

But behind the bank-busting bonanza in Jamnagar lies a struggle for India‘s biggest company – and one that could dictate the fate of the emerging superpower for decades to come.

The richest family in Asia: The Ambanis pose for a photo at the wedding anniversary of Akash Ambani (center) in Mumbai in 2019. Father Mukesh, is chairman of Reliance Industries, worth an estimated $112bn. He has announced he will be handing over power to his three children, including Akash, daughter Isha (third from right) and Anant (second from left)

The richest family in Asia: The Ambanis pose for a photo at the wedding anniversary of Akash Ambani (center) in Mumbai in 2019. Father Mukesh, is chairman of Reliance Industries, worth an estimated $112bn. He has announced he will be handing over power to his three children, including Akash, daughter Isha (third from right) and Anant (second from left)  

The succession plan has garnered fresh attention following the lavish $152million pre-wedding celebrations of youngest son Anant in Jamnagar over the weekend. Anant pictured here center with father Mukesh on the left

The succession plan has garnered fresh attention following the lavish $152million pre-wedding celebrations of youngest son Anant in Jamnagar over the weekend

The succession plan has garnered fresh attention following the lavish $152million pre-wedding celebrations of youngest son Anant in Jamnagar over the weekend. Anant pictured here center with father Mukesh on the left

Rihanna kicked off the festivities with a two hour performance for which she was reportedly paid $6.3 million

Rihanna kicked off the festivities with a two hour performance for which she was reportedly paid $6.3 million

The source of all this is Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, a corporate behemoth that deals in everything from energy to textiles to telecommunications.

The company is worth $112billion, according to Forbes, making it the 11th biggest in the world.

Ambani is not a household name in the US, but it should be no surprise that some of America’s biggest players were in attendance for the family’s latest bash.

Zuckerberg’s Meta invested $5.7billion in Jia Platforms, the telecoms arm of Reliance, in 2020.

At the time, the social media giant described India as one ‘of the most dynamic social and economic transformations the world has ever seen’.

A company press release noted that more than 560 million Indians have come online in the last five years.

In February, Reliance signed a ‘binding pact’ for a merger deal with Disney, who’s CEO, Bob Iger, was also at Anant’s party on the weekend. 

Reliance is the biggest company in the fastest growing economy in the world. If you want to invest in the future, this is it.

And it is the Ambani kids who will have a large say in what it looks like.

In August, Mukesh, 66, told shareholders that he would be spending the next five years preparing his three children to take over the company, marking the beginning of the end of more than two decades in charge.

Each heir has been given executive roles at various branches of the business as they strive to prove they are worthy successors.

Twins Isha and Akash, both 31, have been put in charge of retail and digital services respectively, while Anant, 28, is focused on the firm’s renewable energy transition.

But as the youngest of the trio, he is struggling to make up for lost time.

While ‘softly-spoken’ Akash has served as a director on the board of Reliance Retail Ventures since October 2014, Anant has only half a dozen years with the family firm.

He was the only one of the three siblings to face opposition to his father’s proposal to appoint him to the company board.

In October, two proxy advisory firms recommended that shareholders vote against Anant’s ascension, Bloomberg reported.

Institutional Shareholder Services cited ‘concerns’ over his ‘limited leadership / board experience’, but backed the appointments of Isha and Akash.

It echoed the recommendations from Mumbai-based Institutional Investor Advisory Services (IIAS), which said that at ’28 years of age’, Anant’s promotion ‘does not align with our voting guidelines’.

IIAS also backed Isha and Akash.

All three were ultimately voted in by an overwhelming majority, but the warnings nonetheless underlined doubts over whether Anant was up to the job.

Bride and groom-to-be Anant Ambani (right) with Radhika Merchant at the inauguration of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in March 2023

Bride and groom-to-be Anant Ambani (right) with Radhika Merchant at the inauguration of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in March 2023 

Anant has also suffered from health problems since childhood, something he has compared to ‘the pain of thorns’.

Steroid treatment for chronic asthma resulted in massive weight gain, with his mother Nita, speaking of his struggles with obesity in 2017.

Despite this, Nita and Mukesh have done their best to give their children similar starts in life.

They have all obtained degrees from American universities: Isha has degrees from Stanford and Yale, while the boys have bachelor’s degrees from Brown.

Their father’s careful succession planning is all part of a bid to avoid the messy power struggle he faced when their grandfather – and Reliance’s founder – Dhirubhai Ambani died without a will in 2002.

It triggered an ugly and public clash between Mukesh and his younger brother, Anil, forcing their mother to intervene and split up the business.

The younger generation’s trial at the top comes at another critical moment in the family business.

Reliance, built on fossil fuels, is attempting to transform itself into green energy and digital superpower.

In 2021, Mukesh signaled his commitment to the new direction with a $10billion pledge for clean power and fuel.

But investors are not so sure. Shares in Reliance Industries have dropped in value since.

On the day that Mukesh announced he would be handing over the business to his children, shares fell to their lowest ebb in more than a month.

The lavish displays of love, however, are only getting bigger.

The three-day extravaganza saw guests including Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner jet out to  Jamnagar, Gujarat, in India

The three-day extravaganza saw guests including Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner jet out to Jamnagar, Gujarat, in India

The three-day extravaganza saw guests including Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner jet out to  Jamnagar, Gujarat, in India

Bill Gates and Paula Hurd were among the VIP guests at the three day extravaganza

Bill Gates and Paula Hurd were among the VIP guests at the three day extravaganza 

Zuckerberg speaks with Gates and Hurd during pre-wedding celebrations of Ambani and Merchant

Zuckerberg speaks with Gates and Hurd during pre-wedding celebrations of Ambani and Merchant 

Just five years ago, the billionaire threw India’s most expensive wedding ever for Isha.

Beyoncé headlined the multi-destination wedding that took in Lake Como, Mumbai and Rajasthan.

Yet Mukesh reportedly threw an extra $50million at Anant’s warm up event.

The growing sums are more likely down to the mogul’s desire to outdo himself, rather than any outward display of favoritism.

Nonetheless, Anant knows which side his bread is buttered.

‘I deeply respect my parents and they are my gurus,’ he said during an impassioned speech in 2018.

‘Reliance is my life.’



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