The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anil on a role-searching mission

Mumbai, May 2: Anil Ambani has demanded a clear definition of his role as vice-chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, but the board of directors has failed to respond to his request.

The younger scion is reported to have tried to force the board to define his role at least five times in the past ' and has been unsuccessful. It turns out that the stormy board meeting on April 27 where he refused to sign the annual accounts of RIL, was his most recent effort to force a discussion on the issue.

Anil has been battling brother Mukesh and his associates for almost a year in what has turned out to be a gripping succession battle in the country's largest private conglomerate. He had raised the issue at Reliance Industries' board meetings held in October and December last year and again in January.

The board has so far not responded to his queries, sources close to Anil said.

RIL officials declined to comment on the issue, stating that it was an old issue that Anil had raised before through the media.

Anil's powers within Reliance Industries were curtailed drastically in a resolution passed by the board on July 27, 2004

The change was recommended by a panel sporting an innocuous title ' 'health, safety and environment' committee.

The resolution gave over-riding powers to elder brother Mukesh Ambani in his capacity as chairman and managing director. He had the powers to allocate, delegate or assign responsibility to managing directors, directors and executives or revoke all or any duties, responsibilities or powers so allocated.

The resolution also stipulated that Anil's function would be under the overall authority of the chairman and managing director.

Anil, whose interests were not served by the resolution, had asked why such a major change in the powers of the vice-chairman and managing director was not disclosed to shareholders, stock exchanges or the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

He had argued that he was a permanent director of the company and vice-chairman and managing director appointed by Reliance Industries' shareholders.

Last December, Anil had hurled a 500-page tome at the board of directors with a long list of wrong-doings in corporate governance but the Reliance Industrie s board had cleared brother Mukesh and others of all charges.

At the April meeting, Anil had raised more questions on corporate governance issues but had been thwarted once again.

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