India’s richest man comes to the rescue of younger brother

Anil Ambani was found guilty of contempt for not paying back $80 million and was facing jail time

FILE PHOTO: Anil Ambani, Chairman of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, attends the annual general meeting of Reliance Communication in Mumbai September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo
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India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani stepped in to help younger brother, Anil Ambani, avert jail by paying off his company’s debt to a unit of Sweden’s Ericsson.

India’s supreme court had found Anil guilty of contempt for not abiding by a December 15 ruling that ordered his company Reliance Communications to pay the European telecoms giant about $80 million.

“My sincere and heartfelt thanks to my respected elder brother, Mukesh, and [his wife] Nita, for standing by me during these trying times, and demonstrating the importance of staying true to our strong family values by extending this timely support,” Anil said, according to an emailed statement from his company.

“I and my family are grateful we have moved beyond the past, and are deeply grateful and touched with this gesture.”

The two brothers wrangled over their father’s business empire upon his death in 2002 without leaving a will. They reached an agreement with the help of their mother that split the business between them.

Unlike his brother, Anil’s telecoms business suffered as a result of increased competition and loss of market share. His wealth was further eroded by the rising US dollar and weakening of the Indian currency.

While Anil’s net worth plunged to about $300m from $31 billion in 2008, Mukesh’s net worth stands at $54.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which estimates his fortune increased almost 23 per cent since the start of this year.

Mukesh’s Reliance Industries, owns a 1.4 million barrels per day refining complex at Jamnagar in western India and is the world's largest oil refining and petrochemicals complex. The company also owns a 4G wireless network in India.