The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Marathon runner Anil on a new track

Mumbai, June 18: The coming days will test Anil’s mettle as a scion of the Ambani family as he strikes out alone to make a mark for himself as an industrialist and a visionary like his father Dhirubhai Ambani and elder brother Mukesh Ambani in implementing fast-track mega projects of global scale.

The marathon runner Anil will finally come out of his brother Mukesh’s shadow, who held a vice-like grip over the board of Reliance Industries and therefore all the associate companies within the group.

What goes for Anil is that while the companies he has inherited are small and even puny in comparison to his brother’s Reliance Industries, the scope for growth is exponential as the companies are in the sunrise sectors of the Indian economy.

Energy, telephony, asset management and insurance sectors are just about opening up in the country. While Anil gets companies which are in the sectors that are opening up, he will also realise that there’s a lot of work to be done.

The sectors his companies will be present in will also have strong competitors breathing down his neck. Shadowing his every move will be the Tatas who have interests in both energy and telecom, Mittals in mobile telephony and PSU majors like BSNL.

Anil’s oft-quoted phrase of “oil well to wall socket” may ring true now, as he has now secured assured supplies from Reliance Industries ' controlled by Mukesh ' for providing crucial feedstock gas from the Krishna Godavari basin to Reliance Energy’s plants at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh.

When Anil addressed shareholders of Reliance Energy on June 8, he had hinted that a settlement was in the works. RIL, he said, would supply gas to Reliance Energy’s power project in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, billed as the world’s largest gas-based generation plant at a single site.

The same cable pipe that carries electricity to households in Mumbai and New Delhi will carry a telephone line that will stream live videos and facilitate communication, a nascent sector that could rake in thousands of crores if implemented well.

The broadband plans are just about being crystallised and once it is fully evolved the company could gain a size and stature that will be on a global scale, experts say.

Reliance Infocomm, the leading mobile telephony player, has big plans in broadband, which allows subscribers to watch movies, television programmes, music through its cable network. This is likely to take a little more than a year to be put in place as pilot projects in some Reliance group residential colonies are under way before fully blowing into a national rollout.

Reliance Infocomm, which has 11 million subscribers, is touted as the first telecom company to report a profit in a span of two years. That too in a sector that is known to have very long gestation periods.

Reliance Energy is the other company that will see a slingshot move as Anil tries to capture benefits of the liberalisation of the sector.

A back of the envelope calculation shows that in Reliance Energy alone he has totted up investments to the tune of Rs 75,000-90,000 crore.

Much of it are in grandiose greenfield projects that also include the world's biggest gas power project and the world’s largest coal-based power project.

Anil, a member of the Rajya Sabha, has a distinct personality from his brother's and will have sectors that are distinct from what he has been handling till today.

In general insurance, sources say that the giant (Reliance) is just waking up. It is tying up with vendors to launch a project which has been very muted till date. They say Anil will have to draw up plans from scratch in insurance, whereas in asset management it is considered an aggressive player with a decent corpus to manage.

Anil’s plans will also hinge on good professional managers as many of the senior officials in the operations side have expressed their desire to move back into RIL.

Anil’s challenge will be in the coming days to get competent hands to manage the businesses.

“This would be one of the toughest challenges he’ll face in the coming days,” analysts say. A problem that Mukesh will not face as he has a trusted team to support him.

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