BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Business  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
E-Commerce
Economy
Market Data
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Obituary: DH Ambani
Anil, Dhirubhai and Mukesh Ambani
Dhirubhai Ambani (centre) with sons Anil and Mukesh

Dhirubhai H Ambani rose from humble beginnings to become chairman of India's largest private sector company.

In one of his more candid moments, the otherwise reticent tycoon summed up the secret of his remarkable success story.


Even those who question his business dealings... readily concede that Ambani had a vision and matchless business acumen

Think big, think fast and think ahead.

Born in 1932 to a school teacher father in the small village of Chorwad in western Gujarat state, Ambani followed this advice all his life.

He dreamt big even as a small boy when he used to sell hot snacks to pilgrims outside a temple in his native village.

And he did not stop dreaming big even when he went to Aden as a petrol pump attendant at the age of 17 to help support his family.

Fortune 500

It was this desire to make it big in life which prompted his return to India in 1958.

Dhirubhai Ambani
Ambani: Shaped India's stock market culture
Ambani came to Bombay and started his first company, Reliance Commercial Corporation, a commodity trading and export house.

The company was set up with an investment of 15,000 rupees (about $375).

Forty-four years later Reliance has grown into a conglomerate with an annual turnover of $13.2bn.

It is the only Indian private sector firm in the Fortune 500 list.

In the process, the company has also acquired one of the world's largest groups of shareholders, with over four million investors putting their faith in its stock.

'Revered'

In 1966 the Reliance group opened its first textile mill in Naroda in Ahmedabad.


He will go down perhaps as the most controversial industrialist in India's corporate history

The textile mill won accolades in 1975 from a World Bank technical team, who described it as "excellent by developed country standards".

Two years later the company went public, evoking a tremendous response from investors.

That made Ambani something of a revered figure among the stock investors' fraternity, who held him in awe from then on.

They credit the Reliance chairman with introducing a stock market culture in the country.

'Matchless acumen'

In the 25 years since it went public Reliance has become more than just a textile industry player.

It now has interests in power, telecoms, petrochemicals and life sciences as well.

Under Ambani's guidance it became one of the biggest first-generation success stories in Asia.

Its founder will go down perhaps as the most controversial industrialist in India's corporate history.

He was known for assiduously cultivating those in positions of power.

Many observers attribute his phenomenal rise to his close contacts with the Congress leadership in the 1970s and 1980s.

But even those who question his business dealings - especially in the earlier years of Reliance - readily concede that Ambani had a vision and matchless business acumen.

Late recognition

While he and his family may have begrudged what they thought was insufficient recognition from his peers and the press till the 1980s, all that changed in the last decade, during which the Reliance family really flourished.

Reliance Industries Managing Director Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani runs Reliance with brother Mukesh
Asiaweek magazine voted Ambani amongst the 50 most powerful men in Asia - not once but three times, in 2000, 1998 and 1996.

The federation of Indian chambers of commerce and industry (FICCI) conferred on him the Indian entrepreneur of the 20th Century award.

A poll conducted by The Times of India in 2000 voted him "creator of wealth in the century".

And in December 2000 Ambani was honoured at a civic reception by the municipal corporation of Bombay.

He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.

His sons, Mukesh and Anil, both of them groomed in business by their father, have turned into great business leaders in their own right.

 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
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes