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Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Indian business giant dies
Mourners beside portrait of DH Ambani outside his Bombay residence
Ambani: Hailed as "patriarch of India PLC"
Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder and chairman of the Reliance conglomerate, India's largest private sector company, has died aged 69.

He had been in intensive care since being admitted to hospital last month after suffering a stroke.


The country has lost iconic proof of what an ordinary Indian fired by the spirit of enterprise... can achieve

Atal Behari Vajpayee,
Indian PM
Mourners from the worlds of business, politics and showbiz turned out for his funeral in Bombay on Sunday.

Thousands of members of the public lined the streets as the tycoon's body, covered in red, white and pink flowers, was carried through the city for cremation.

India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in a statement that he was "filled with profound grief" by news of the death.

"The country has lost iconic proof of what an ordinary Indian fired by the spirit of enterprise and driven by determination can achieve in his own lifetime," he said.


He was suffering from acute blood pressure and was in a deep comatose condition

Hospital statement
His deputy, LK Advani, was among mourners in Bombay.

"Because of his initiative and courage he has been one of the great achievers in India," Mr Advani told reporters after paying his respects to the Ambani family.

Mr Ambani was admitted to Bombay's Breach Candy Hospital on 24 June following a stroke, and suffered a fourth heart attack on Saturday night, doctors there said.

He had been partially paralysed by a stroke over a decade earlier.

Rags to riches

Born in 1932, the son of a poor school teacher from western Gujarat state, Ambani is credited with shaping India's stock market culture.

DH Ambani
Ambani: "Think big, think fast"
He left home at 16 to work in Aden in Yemen as a small-time trader before returning to India to take on the state-owned industrial giants.

The listing of his Reliance Industries in 1977, one of the largest public stock offerings of its time, attracted thousands of small investors to a market dominated by state-run financial institutions.

The company's annual shareholders' meetings were so well attended they had to be held in a football stadium.

Handover

Shares in Reliance Industries, India's biggest petrochemicals producer, and Reliance Petroleum, the biggest private refiner, have slipped by more than 5% since news of Ambani's stroke emerged last month.

Reliance Industries Managing Director Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani runs Reliance with brother Mukesh
The move has largely been put down to emotion, as Ambani handed over the day-to-day operation of his business empire to his two sons, Mukesh and Anil, after his first stroke.

Analysts say any further price falls are likely to be limited.

"Investors had known all along it would be difficult for him to pull through... much of that bad news has been factored into the price," said UR Baht, chief investment officer at JF Asset Management.

Merger

Reliance Industries and Reliance Petroleum are in the process of merging, creating India's largest industrial group.

The two firms are still listed separately, but the combined value of the merged company would be about $9bn.

The Reliance Group has interests in the oil, gas, energy, telecoms, textile, insurance and financial service sectors.

The merged firms would account for about 15% of the Bombay index.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava
"Mr Ambani made his first million in trading of chemicals and textiles"
See also:

07 Jul 02 | Business
15 Apr 02 | Business
04 Mar 02 | Business
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