24 Steps In Dhirubhai Ambani’s Life That Made Him A Formidible Legend

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Updated on 1 May, 2015 at 6:03 pm



1. Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani (1932 – 2002) was born in a Modh family in Gujarat. His father, Hirachand Gordhandhas Ambani, was a school teacher.

2. Dhirubhai (as he came to be known) first ventured into entrepreneurial territory by selling bhajias to pilgrims at Mount Girnar.

3. Dhirubhhai completed his matriculation at 16 and moved to Aden, Yemen, where he got work as a gas-station attendant for A. Besse & Co. for a salary of Rs. 300 pm.

4. In 1958, he returned to India with Rs. 50,000/- and set up a textile trading company, Majin, along with his cousin, Champaklal Damani.

5. Reliance Commercial Corporation was set up in Narsinatha Street in Masjid Bunder in a 33 sq m room that had one table, three chairs and a land-line phone.

6. In 1965, the cousins parted ways due to differing opinions on business matters and differing personalities as well.

7. Dhirubhai moved to an apartment in Altamount Road in South Mumbai and by the late 1970s, his net worth stood at around Rs 10 lakhs.

8. According to sources, Ambani would export goods, like spices and rayon, at a loss but import goods, like nylon, anticipating heavy demand and earning 300% profits.

9. In 1977, Dhirubhai started his first textile mill in Naroda, Ahemdabad. His brand ‘Vimal’ was named after his nephew, Vimal Ambani.

10. Reliance Industries became the first private sector company to hold its annual meetings inside stadiums. This was because Dhirubhai managed to convince many rural Gujaratis to become shareholders.

11. In 1986, 350,000 shareholders attended the Annual General Meeting held in Cross Maidan in Mumbai.

12. In 1982, a bear cartel from Calcutta started to short sell Reliance shares, but some brokers (known as ‘Friends of Reliance’) bought the short sold shares in the BSE.

13. At settlement, Dhirubhai gave money to the stock brokers who’d bought Reliance shares. As the Bulls demanded a penalty sum of Rs 35 per share, Reliance shares shot above Rs 180 in minutes.

14. After this, the BSE was shut down for 3 business days. The BSE brought the penalty sum down to Rs 2. The Bear Cartel then bought higher-priced Reliance shares, thus increasing Dhirubhai’s profits.

15. When people questioned Dhirubhai’s rise from rags to riches so fast, Pranab Mukherjee (then Finance Minister) stated in parliament that an NRI had invested Rs 22 crores in Reliance.

16. These funds were routed through companies mostly registered in Isle of Man, such as Crocodile, Lota and Fiasco. Coincidentally, all promoters and owners of these companies were named Shah.

17. Later, Dhirubhai diversified his business into petrochemicals, telecommunications, information technology, energy, retail, capital markets, power, textiles, etc.

18. Dhirubhai formed an enmity with Nusli Wadia (of Bombay Dyeing). Both were political influencers and were known for getting their own way.

19. Ramnath Goenka, who acted first as a mediator between Wadia and Ambani, finally turned against Ambani when he was cheated out of a fair share in the company.

20. The Indian Express, published by Goenka, alleged that Dhirubhai was using unfair trade practices and accused the government of not doing enough to penalize Reliance.

21. Then, a journalist (together with Giani Zail Singh) ghost-wrote a letter from Singh to Rajiv Gandhi, which the Indian Express published – not realizing that its content had later been changed.

22. With Goenka now in a face-off with the government, Ambani was safe. In a raid of the Indian Express offices, the original ghost-written letter was found.

23. On June 24, 2002, Dhirubhai suffered a second stroke. One in 1986 had left his right hand paralyzed. He was in a coma for more than a week and then died on June 6.

24. His funeral procession, on June 7, was attended not only by celebrities, politicians and businessmen, but also thousands of ordinary people.

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