The Telegraph
Saturday , May 17 , 2014
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New order at RIL too, Nita to join board

Nita Ambani: Woman power

Mumbai, May 16: Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani, will be inducted into the board of the $67-billion oil and gas behemoth, becoming the first woman to break the glass ceiling at the country’s largest private company.

Nita, an educationist and a philanthropist in her own right as the chairperson of the Reliance Foundation, will occupy the board seat that is being vacated by Ramniklal H. Ambani, who turns 90 this year.

RIL will seek shareholders’ approval at its annual general meeting on June 18 for the induction of Nita Ambani.

Ramniklal, who is the elder brother of Dhirubhai Ambani, is the non-executive director at RIL.

Ramniklal has been on the board of RIL since 1976 when the company first went public. Ramniklal’s son Vimal was the inspiration behind the Only Vimal textile brand that the group had launched in the early 1980s.

The RIL board now consists of 14 directors, of which 8 are independent. There are four executive directors — Nikhil R. Meswani, Hital R. Meswani, P. M. S. Prasad and P.K. Kapil.

The development comes after the Companies Act, 2013, proposed that there should be at least one woman director on the board of a listed company.

In February this year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India also announced comprehensive corporate governance norms for listed companies, which reiterated that there should be at least one woman director on the board of a company.

An RIL press statement said over the past two decades Nita Ambani had made significant contribution to the social sector by leading initiatives in education, health, rural transformation, environmental protection and sports. She was at the forefront of the ecological development of RIL’s Jamnagar refinery site by implementing a greening plan covering over 2,000 acres. She also developed a world-class township in Jamnagar.

Nita Ambani had preferred to stay in the shadows in the early years and emerged to first set up the Dhirubhai Ambani school in Bandra Kurla and later managed the affairs of the IPL franchise Mumbai Indians — often seen in the stands at the games that the team played in the company of her son Akash.

She also took enormous interest in the retail venture that the Reliance group launched in 2006 which has since grown into a Rs 10,000-crore entity and now ranks as the largest retailing entity in the country.