Mukesh Ambani steps down from Reliance Jio, son named chairman

Akash Ambani, the eldest son of Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani, has been named as the chairman of Reliance’s digital empire Jio in what analysts view as a clear illustration of a leadership transition in one of Asia’s wealthiest families.

Reliance Jio said in an exchange filing that Mukesh Ambani has resigned from his director role at the unit, though he will continue to serve as a chairman. Jio, which is India’s largest telecom network with over 420 million subscribers, made global headlines in 2020 when it raised about $20 billion from scores of investors, including Google and Meta.

The leadership transition has been in the works for several years. The 30-year-old has delivered several keynote product announcements at the company’s recent annual general meetings, slowly becoming the public face of the conglomerate’s digital empire.

Akash’s appointment follows Reliance Industries, a $217 billion firm which makes a significant portion of its profits from oil, making an aggressive push to broaden its digital offerings. Earlier this month, Viacom18, backed by Reliance and James Murdoch’s Bodhi Tree, outbid Disney to secure the digital streaming rights of Indian Premier League’s cricket tournament for five years.

Tata Group and Adani Group, two other Indian conglomerates, are deliberating similar digital expansions.

Mukesh Ambani, 65, has credited his children for the inception of Jio five years ago. The firm says Akash has been involved with several of Jio Platforms’ strategies, including recent merger and acquisition moves. Reliance units have backed a number of startups in recent months, including investments in hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo and mobile platform Glance.