Mukesh Ambani is set to overtake Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma to become Asia’s richest person as he intends to utilise Reliance Industries to disrupt the e-commerce space in India, as per media reports.
The chairman of India’s refining-to-telecoms conglomerate, Ambani was estimated to be worth $44.3 billion on Friday with Reliance Industries Ltd. trading 1.7% higher, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The stock fetched Rs 1,100.65 as of 12.25 pm on the BSE and is set for a record. Ma’s wealth stood at $44 billion at the close of trade on Thursday in the US, where the company is listed.
$4 billion was added to Ambani’s fortune this year as Reliance doubled its petrochemicals capacity and investors cheered the success of his disruptive telecom upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. Then 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. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Ma has lost $1.4 billion in 2018.
Ambani, best known for executing large-scale projects, spearheaded construction of the world’s largest refining complex in Jamnagar, owns the most-widespread mobile data network globally and claims to have India’s biggest as well as most-profitable retail firm.
At this month’s annual shareholders’ meeting, 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.
It is to introduce a fiber-based broadband service across 1,100 Indian cities in August in what Ambani said would be the biggest greenfield fixed-line rollout anywhere in the world.
A spokesman for Reliance didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
Within a week of the announcements, Reliance re-entered the $100 billion club after more than a decade.
The billionaire inherited Reliance from his much-storied father Dhirubhai Ambani, who 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.
Dhirubhai’s death in 2002 left the group in the hands of Mukesh and his younger brother Anil Ambani. The brothers eventually split the company in 2005, as per a family pact brokered by their mother, after years of acrimony.