Founder of Reliance Industries, Dhirubhai Ambani Dead

August 13, 2002

Dhirubhai H. Ambani, the 69-year-old Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, India died in Mumbai on June 6. Thousands of Indians paid homage and millions mourned his death.

A high school drop out, Ambani went to Aden, South Yemen and he worked as a petrol pump attendant. In 1959, he returned to India with a savings of $3000. He invested the money in his business, starting with a 100 square foot office in Bombay, trading in cotton, viscose textiles, and yarns and commodities. He eventually built the company's stature enough to gain recognition as the only company in India's private sector to be ranked among the Fortune 500 companies.

He built Reliance single handedly, surprising large established industrialists and government-owned monopoly industries along the way. Known for his drive, Ambani is credited with raising equity and returning an unbroken dividend reward of 25 percent per year for 3 decades. He was also adept at raising funds internationally and secured a 100-year bond worth $50 million from U.S. markets.

After 31 years in business, today Reliance group claims an aggregate turn over of $13 billion and a net profit of $ 1.3 billion and total assets of $11 billion. It is one of the largest producers of fabrics; it is the the third largest producer of paraxylene (1.4 million tons a year).

During his life, Ambani's competitors attributed — sometimes bitterly — his success to his uncanny ability to influence the government in his favor. But Ambani also dreamt big and established globally competitive, high quality manufacturing systems.

Despite the news of his death and loss of leadership, the company stock price went up, mirroring the faith of the company's 4 million shareholders.

Ambani's sons, Mukesh and Anil Ambani, are now managing the company.

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