The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anil-mediator meet amid settlement talk

Mumbai, Jan. 9: Anil Ambani today met old family friend and chief executive of ICICI Bank K.V. Kamath amid speculation about a settlement of the dispute with elder brother Mukesh.

One of Anil's associates confirmed the two-hour meeting at the ICICI headquarters but would not disclose anything else.

This is not the first time Anil has met Kamath, whose association with the Reliance group goes back to the seventies, when he was a junior officer in ICICI. He knew Dhirubhai Ambani well.

It is possibly because of the trust long acquaintance breeds that Kamath is rumoured to have been mediating in the dispute, though the ICICI Bank CEO himself has denied any such role.

Kamath could not be contacted for comments on today's meeting. Nor has any word been given out in the past about the talks he has separately had with the two brothers who call him uncle.

One such round took place as recently as last week, when rumour started about a settlement where the family holding of 34 per cent in group flagship Reliance Industries (RIL) would be split.

It has also been suggested that Kamath has been requested by Kokilaben ' the brothers have reportedly vowed to go by whatever she decides ' to evaluate the group's assets for a proper division.

Sources close to Mukesh have ruled out splitting RIL, but even without actually dividing the company, it is possible to carve out the share of 34 per cent in three or more parcels.

Several formulas are being propounded, one of which suggests a sharing of the family's RIL holding in the proportion of 33.33 per cent each between the mother and the two brothers.

Reports have said at a family conclave late last month, attended also by the sisters Dipti and Nina, it was agreed that in the background of their bitter row, the two brothers could not work together.

There is little to settle about the other group companies ' Reliance Infocomm is indisputably under Mukesh, as are Reliance Energy and Reliance Capital under Anil.

The bone of contention is RIL, which forms over three-fourths of the Ambani empire. After handing 33.33 per cent each to the brothers, Kokilaben ' so goes the formula ' will distribute a part of her share between the daughters.

Another formula puts the ratio of sharing at 30 per cent for the brothers and the rest for Kokilaben, who will give the daughters 5 per cent each.

Other than the various formulas for sharing, it has been suggested that separate empires be carved out within RIL, with Mukesh holding charge of petrochemicals, refinery and oil marketing and Anil oil and gas exploration.

Such an arrangement, combined with splitting of the family holding, will also entail Anil's Reliance Energy getting the same kind of financial support from RIL as Mukesh's Reliance Infocomm.

It does not seem the originally touted formula of Anil keeping Reliance Energy and Reliance Capital and getting a payoff of Rs 10,000-12,000 crore from Mukesh for surrendering his interest in RIL has made much headway in the face of the younger Ambani's offensive.

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