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The billionaire brawl

Inside an ugly, and brotherly, fight in India

After the split, the separate companies headed by the two brothers have thrived. Mukesh’s Reliance Industries runs one of the world’s largest oil refineries. One of Anil’s companies distributes power in India’s biggest cities, New Delhi and Mumbai. Another is among the largest and fastest-growing mobile phone service providers in the country.

The two have led flamboyant lives outside of their traditional businesses. Mukesh’s new $2 billion, 27-floor home being built in Mumbai’s Altamount Road will be among the world’s most expensive and lavish. He also owns a cricket team in India.

Anil has invested in the entertainment industry including Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG.

In the brothers’ fight, India’s government has been dragged in with Anil accusing the oil ministry of siding with his older brother and playing a partisan role in a commercial dispute.

In turn, the government has said the two brothers had no right to fight over the gas which is a natural resource and therefore a property of the state.

The vengeful battles have hurt the reputation and businesses of the two brothers. Anil has accused Mukesh of scuttling an initial public offer of one of his companies. An ambitious overseas merger plan by Anil’s telecom company failed because of the fight.

It seems the courts, the government and even their mother cannot put an end to the war between the two brothers. Without doubt, that is hurting the business and personal fortunes of the ultra-ambitious Ambanis.

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