Mukesh Ambani Leaves Behind Jack Ma To Become Asia's Richest Person(file image)
New Delhi: Indian businessman, Mukesh Ambani overtook Alibaba Group's founder Jack Ma to become Asia's richest person as he positions Reliance Industries Ltd. to disrupt the e-commerce space in India.
On Friday, Ambani, the chairman of India's refining-to-telecoms conglomerate was estimated to be worth $44.3 billion with Reliance Industries Ltd. rising 1.6 percent to a record 1,099.8 rupees, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. On Thursday, Jack Ma's wealth stood at $44 billion at close of trade in the U.S., where the company is listed.
This year, the Indian business magnate added $4 billion to his fortune, as Reliance doubled its petrochemicals capacity and investors cheered the success of his disruptive telecom upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. Earlier this month, the tycoon unveiled plans to leverage his 215 million telecom subscribers to expand his e-commerce offerings, taking on the likes of Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. While Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s Jack Ma has lost $1.4 billion in 2018.
"We need to broaden our horizon of expectation with Reliance," said Nitin Tiwari, a Mumbai-based analyst at Antique Stock Broking. "They are in for something really transformational."
The Indian billionaire, prominent for executing large-scale projects, spearheaded construction of the world's largest refining complex in Jamnagar. Mr Ambani is also the owner of the most-widespread mobile data network globally and claims to have India's biggest as well as most-profitable retail firm.
Ambani said Reliance saw its "biggest growth opportunity in creating a hybrid, online-to-offline new commerce platform," involving the group's Reliance Retail Ltd. and Reliance Jio businesses at this month's annual shareholders' meeting. He added that the "size of Reliance will more than double" by 2025.
A fiber-based broadband service across 1,100 Indian cities will be introduced by Jio in August, is what Ambani said would be the biggest greenfield fixed-line rollout anywhere in the world.
"Jio is the driver behind the surge in Reliance," said Deven Choksey, managing director at Mumbai-based KR Choksey Shares and Securities Pvt. "If the company is going to double profit a few years down the line, the stock price will also double, if not more."
Reliance re-entered the $100 billion club within a week of the announcements, after more than a decade. The same venue was used two years ago to announce his disruptive telecom venture with free offers that eventually forced smaller rivals to quit and the biggest ones to merge.
After the death of Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh Ambani, the Indian billionaire inherited Reliance. Dhirubhai is credited with sparking an equity culture among middle-class Indians and using their savings to build the group's textile and petrochemical manufacturing units.
In 2002, Dhirubhai's death left the group in the hands of Mukesh and his younger brother Anil Ambani. In 2005, the comapny was split by the brothers, as per a family pact brokered by their mother, after years of acrimony.