Mukesh Ambani: In the global big league

Reliance's scale in telecom and retail propel Mukesh Ambani to 13th place in the global billionaire sweepstakes

Samar Srivastava
Published: Apr 1, 2019 09:46:58 AM IST
Updated: Apr 1, 2019 12:09:22 PM IST

After studying law I vectored towards journalism by accident and it's the only job I've done since. It's a job that has taken me on a private jet to Jaisalmer - where I wrote India's first feature on fractional ownership of business jets - to the badlands of west UP where India's sugar economy is inextricably now tied to politics. I'm a big fan of new business models and crafty entrepreneurs. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of those in Asia at the moment.

g_114289_mukesh_ambani_280x210.jpgMukesh Ambani

Invest and wait patiently. that’s the mantra of India’s richest and world’s 13th wealthiest Mukesh Ambani, who spent the last decade sowing the seeds of his consumer businesses in telecom and retail.

Over the last 18 months he’s reaped rich rewards as investors begin to price in potential earnings with the stock up by 95 percent. In effect they’re betting that Ambani has the smarts to effectively deploy the earnings from his petrochemicals operation and position ‘future proof’ Reliance Industries. (Reliance Industries owns Network18, publisher of Forbes India.)

Just like he did with the petrochemicals business in building his new businesses, Ambani has unabashedly gone for scale.

Reliance Retail now operates 9,907 stores—more than any retailer across India. It has taken the company over a decade to get here, but the market believes its online bet could roll out double quick. Its aggressive plans for online retail aim to wire India’s kirana stores to its distribution network and reduce last mile fulfilment issues. The move will position it as a credible competitor to Amazon and Flipkart and could allow it to leapfrog its online rivals. Total topline in Q3FY19 was ₹35,577 crore with PBIDT of ₹9,907 crore, but those numbers would look small once the online operation scales up.

Reliance Jio has managed to sign up 280 million customers, making it the third largest mobile operator after disrupting the market with free voice calls, no roaming charges and dirt cheap data. Three years after its launch, it now has 23.9 percent of the market up, from 13.7 percent a year earlier and is making a modest profit. As telecom rates tick upwards, analysts expect the business to become an important driver of profitability. Recently, Jio has announced plans to set up a nationwide broadband network and has acquired Den Networks and Hathway Cable in order to speed up its rollout.

(This story appears in the 12 April, 2019 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • BK Menon

    He is the insperation for all youngsters and role model for all enterpreners.

    on Apr 1, 2019
  • Radha Gurram

    I like Reliance lndustries Very very good Relince industries

    on Apr 2, 2019
  • N.Raja

    Wow. Well done

    on Apr 2, 2019
  • Patel Dimple


    on Apr 2, 2019
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