Flashback: when Anil Ambani was richer than his brother Mukesh Ambani

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Retrospective: when Anil Ambani was richer than his brother Mukesh Ambani

There was a time when Anil Ambani was richer than his older brother Mukesh Ambani. But this time was 16 years ago.

In 2006, a year after splitting their father Dhirubhai Ambani’s empire, Anil’s fortune was estimated at Rs 550 crore more than his elder brother who now holds the title of Asia’s second richest person.

Anil Ambani was then the third richest Indian after steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and Azim Premji. That started to change soon after. In 2007, Anil was worth $45 billion while Mukesh was worth $49 billion, according to Forbes.

Ambani was the sixth richest person in the world in 2008 with a fortune of $42 billion. In 13 years since, the eldest Ambani has become one of the richest people in Asia, amassing a fortune of Rs 7.2 lakh crore or over $97 billion in fortune while the younger brother’s fortune has faded away.

But this story is far from over. The ADAG chairman’s name was among 300 Indians mentioned in the Pandora Papers leaked by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICJ) last month. The ICJ has reported that Anil Ambani has alleged ties to offshore companies that have borrowed or invested around $1.3 billion.

Anil recently said his net worth was nil after being pressured by Chinese bankers to return their money, was once richer than this brother, at least on paper. During the hearing of the case brought by Chinese debtors against Reliance Communication’s Rs 5,000 crore default of payment last year, embattled Reliance Group Chairman Anil Dhirubhai Ambani (ADAG) told a UK court that his net worth was nil and that he was on the verge of bankruptcy.

“The present value of my holdings has fallen to approximately $82.4 million and my net worth is zero after taking into account my debts,” he told the court in 2020. Since then, ADAG has said some of its heavily indebted companies such as Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Communications, Reliance Capital and Reliance Power have reduced some debt. Reliance Infra said it reduced its debt to Rs 8,781 crore in March 2021 from Rs 14,300 crore last year.

Reliance Communications debt as of December 2020 was Rs 26,000 crore, he said. It would have been Rs 30,737 crore in FY2020. Reliance Capitals debt fell to Rs 26,887 crore in FY21 from Rs 46,160 crore two years ago. Younger brother Ambani’s troubles are over, as unverified allegations make the collective responsibilities of ADAG Group companies far greater. But there was a time when the ADAG Chairman’s net worth was higher than that of Mukesh Ambani.

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