Ambani truce just a pause, not end of story: New book

The siblings' declaration in May this year of working for a harmonious environment was partly due to two influences -- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and mother Kokilaben, who implemented the division of the multi-billion dollar Reliance empire in 2005, the author Hamish McDonald has written in the new book 'Ambani and Sons'.

Terming the two brothers as "real life slumdog billionaires", McDonald notes that the continuing story of Mukesh and Anil was "unlikely to become dull."According to the author, it is not the end of the Ambani story -- "merely a pause".

His previous book 'Polyester Prince', published in 1998 and focussed mostly on Ambani family patriarch Dhirubhai Ambani, generated a lot  of controversy and could never be released in India after Ambani group moved court against its publication here.
However, the new book, which takes forward the story of Ambani family and talks about the feud between the two Ambani brothers Mukesh and Anil as also their recent truce, has managed to get published in India.

The book says that two influences, that is Prime Minister's Office and Kokilaben, were partly responsible for the joint statement that spoke about striving for an environment of harmony, co-operation and collaboration.

"One was the office of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which had been urging the brothers to stop their public fighting in the overall interests of India."The other was Kokilaben, who was undoubtedly anguished by the continuing rift in her family and the unfavourable attention it was bringing," the book points out.

As per the book, even without these influences, "commercial realism" would have impelled the modification of the family agreement and the pledge of cooperation".
In the new book, the author opines that the master agreement for the sale of gas from Mukesh's offshore field to younger Anil's power plant at Dadri seemed more like a "truce, a reaching for a modus vivendi, than a firm peace, let along a rebuilt alliance".

"The sniping had stopped, but the signs of active collaboration were yet to come," he writes in the book that has come within months of the two group announcing a truce.
The author says that Mukesh and Anil showed a hungry ambition, more often found in a first generation entrepreneur, perhaps because they had been involved from very young ages in their father Dhirubhai Ambani's business life.

Regarding the two empires led by Mukesh and Anil, McDonald wonders, "Had the entrepreneurial drive of Dhirubhai been dissipated? Each of the brothers se out to show the world that the spirit lay with him".

As per the book, the two brothers played a constant game of "one-upmanship" against the other, citing instances such as Mukesh buying an IPL cricket team and during the same time, reports had suggested that Anil was eyeing a English football club.

On the infamous years-long succession battle that led to the division of Reliance empire, McDonald says that communication between the two siblings came down to stiff press comments by spokesmen and mounting number of court actions."However, both were said to put on a display of politeness at weekly breakfasts with their mother at Sea Wind," according to the book.

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