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Mukesh Ambani: the relentless rise of Asia’s richest man

When Ajit Mohan landed in the swampy heat of Mumbai last December, he was a man on a mission. The 45-year-old media executive had recently joined Facebook to help reboot its fortunes in India. Although the social media giant had more than 300 million users in the country — more than anywhere else in the world — mis-steps and regulatory scuffles had scuppered its efforts to make any real money there. 

Mohan was joined by David Fischer, Facebook’s chief revenue officer, and the pair were whisked out to the industrial suburb of Navi Mumbai. There, a series of meetings set the company’s plan in motion: to form an alliance with the richest man in Asia.

Mukesh Ambani would not be particularly recognisable outside of India. Heavy set, with deep bags under his eyes and a penchant for white short-sleeve shirts, the camera-shy 63-year-old is a sober contrast to hoodie-wearing, device-clutching American tech bosses. But that appearance belies his importance in a country of 1.4 billion people, and the power that his $80bn fortune brings.

Reliance Industries was a lucrative, if unglamorous, petrochemicals and oil refining group when Ambani took control in 2005, three years after his father’s death. But over the past decade, he has embarked upon a project that has made him one of the most talked about people in Silicon Valley. Jio, the mobile operator he launched in 2016, has already muscled aside competitors to become India’s largest. Ambani hopes it will become the country’s answer to China’s Alibaba, a home-grown tech giant in one of the world’s fastest-growing internet markets. 

Read More https://www.ft.com/content/f70b4ab1-6b5e-4130-a968-b4ccedb2cfca

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