Mukesh Ambani Resigns from Board of Reliance Jio. What Lies Next?

Reliance Jio

Mukesh Ambani has stepped down as the director of Reliance Jio Infocomm appointing his son as the chairman.

A 4G mobile network was introduced by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, in September 2016. Months before, in Navi Mumbai, the headquarters of India’s largest private enterprise and petroleum behemoth Reliance Industries, the oil tycoon had celebrated its soft launch.

Akash M. Ambani, a non-executive director, and Mukesh Ambani’s son has assumed leadership of the board of directors of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, RIL’s digital and telecom division, in a momentous succession for the Reliance Industries (RIL) empire.

Following Mukesh Ambani’s departure as the company’s Director with effect from June 27, Akash was promoted. In addition, Mukesh’s retirement from Jio was accepted with immediate effect, subject to shareholder approval, Pankaj Mohan Pawar has been named the company’s managing director for five years, along with additional directors Raminder Singh Gujral and K.V. Chowdary.

Mukesh Ambani will however continue to serve as chairman of Jio Platforms Ltd, the parent firm of all Reliance Jio digital services businesses. The company’s Jio Platforms, in which Facebook, Google, Silver Lake, and Vista Equity Partners are investors, runs the streaming services JioTV and JioCinema. Reliance Jio is the market leader in India’s telecom industry.

When Reliance Jio started operating commercially in September 2016, it was a young telecom competitor, but it quickly rocked the entire business model of the sector by making voice calling nearly free and causing a collapse in the cost of mobile data and internet. At the end of FY22, Reliance’s digital business unit, which is primarily made up of Jio, generated a revenue of Rs 1 lakh crore, or around 13 percent of the company’s overall revenue of Rs 7.9 lakh crore. Jio is India’s biggest mobile service provider, with more than 410 million members. Jio Infocomm, which includes its mobile and fiber (broadband) businesses, accounts for approximately 90% of Jio Platforms’ revenue and Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).

The disruptive and inclusive growth path that the Reliance Group’s consumer retail and digital services have mapped out has been closely involved with Akash, who is now leading the creation of the “convergence dividend” for more than 500 million consumers, digitally and with high inclusivity across geographies and income levels. Jio Platforms’ subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm is India’s largest 4G and mobile broadband digital service provider. Akash played a crucial role in the international investments made by tech giants and investors in 2020, which helped Jio become well-known among investors worldwide. To promote an ecosystem that will advance digital solutions and make the power of data and technology more available to everyone, including those who are still on the margin, he is required to continue operating at the forefront of innovation and technology.

Akash played a key role in developing the online environment that supports Jio’s 4G offering. In 2017, he worked closely with a group of engineers to develop and release the Jiophone, which was designed with India’s needs in mind. This device quickly gained popularity and helped many people switch from 2G to 4G.

Given recent seismic changes in the Indian media industry, mobile and streaming platforms are essential. A consortium led by the Ambani-backed Viacom18 group won an online auction for two bundles of digital rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket earlier this month by bidding $3 billion. Utilizing IPL cricket, Viacom18 will be able to move viewers away from its linear TV networks and onto Reliance Jio’s digital services. According to the most recent Deloitte report, India is a mobile-driven market that will have 1 billion smartphone users by 2026, which directly benefits Reliance Industries. Out of India’s projected 1.14 billion mobile consumers by 2022, Ambani’s Jio will be the country’s top mobile service provider with 407 million subscribers. Around 750 million of these people use smartphones. With Mukesh Ambani turning 65, the choice to appoint his 30-year-old elder son Akash as chair looks to be a clear and smooth succession maneuver.

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