The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mukesh tells team who's the boss

Mumbai, Nov. 23: Mukesh Ambani fired his third salvo today by sending out a message to 80,000 Reliance employees in which he said he was the 'final authority' on all matters concerning the company.

'There is no ambiguity in his (late father Dhirubhai Ambani's) legacy that the chairman and managing director is the final authority on all matters concerning Reliance,' Mukesh told the employees of the conglomerate.

'Our founder chairman late Dhirubhai Ambani had taken all necessary steps to separate ownership from management and had settled all issues during his lifetime,' Mukesh said in the message.

As the rumbles about a rift in India's First Corporate Family grew louder, Mukesh tried to calm the frazzled nerves of the employees just as he tried to soothe skittish stock markets yesterday.

But there was more churning in the group with Reliance Industries director M.L. Bhakta ' a 27-year veteran on the board of the company ' submitting his resignation. Reports swirled that more board members could resign to give Mukesh a free hand in running the group as a whole.

Some reports said Bhakta resigned as he was 73 years old and was not keen to take the pressure of advising India's largest business house.

Bhakta ' a legal eagle and a senior partner of law firm Kanga and Co. ' did not take calls even as some reports spoke of a boardroom crisis ahead of a crucial meeting scheduled for Monday. The agenda for the board meeting is not known, although the coven is expected to throw its weight behind Mukesh.

The Reliance Industries stock, which had bounced back yesterday after Mukesh issued his statement, fell by Rs 4.50 to Rs 528.30 on the Bombay Stock Exchange today as the fresh bout of uncertainty engulfed the company.

Anil, the younger brother and vice-chairman and managing director, withdrew further into his shell. The much-speculated press statement from him did not come today.

The Ambani brothers attended office as usual.

Reports suggested that both Mukesh and Anil were at their Ballard Estate office in the morning and later moved to their suburban offices.

Anil went to the Santa Cruz office that houses the Reliance Energy headquarters while Mukesh headed towards the Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge Centre in Navi Mumbai.

In his missive to employees, Mukesh said the controversy would have no impact on the integrity of Reliance. 'Reliance continues and will continue to grow from strength to strength in several initiatives in the energy value chain as well as new economy businesses,' he said.

He added that Reliance's commitment to break new ground in its quest for global leadership in all major initiatives was unambiguous and resolute.

Mukesh emphasised that had it not been for the 'professional strength' of the company, Reliance could not have emerged as a $23-billion (Rs 100,000 crore) enterprise in a span of 27 years.

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