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3 years after the split, Ambanis at war again!

June 18, 2008

Fighting forever

It was today -- June 18 -- three years ago when the Reliance empire was split and the Reliance ownership battle was 'resolved.'

And even as Anil Ambani and superstar Hollywood director Steven Spielberg are about to sign a deal that will see the Ambani bankroll Spielberg's DreamWorks SKG with between $500 million and $600 million, the hostility between the two brothers -- Mukesh and Anil -- continues unabated...

Once inseparable, the Ambani brothers just can't stop fighting now. They have even made it to the Forbes richest billionaire feuds list.

Right from the bickering for more power, assets and property, to mundane things like payment of telephone bills of group companies, fighting over gas supply deals, bidding for infrastructure projects, the brothers' fights have become quite commonplace.

The latest squabble between the brothers is over the South African mobile giant, MTN, with whom Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications is in talks to buy over 40 per cent stake. Mukesh Ambani-led RIL has objected to the deal, claiming it has the first right of refusal over any stake sale by RComm.

Till their father Dhirubhai Ambani, patriarch of the Reliance empire, was alive, the brothers stood together. Things took a dramatic turn after his demise in 2002 when Mukesh became the chairman and managing director of teh empire's flagship firm, Reliance Industries, and Anil the vice chairman and managing director of the company. Differences between the brothers started cropping up leading to a nasty seven-month-long ownership row.

On June 18, 2005, they split the Reliance empire to steer ahead their own interests. Mukesh and Anil reached an agreement to divide the assets after a long drawn battle.

It was corporate India's biggest battles for succession...

Image: Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries chairman, (R) along with the then RIL vice chairman Anil Ambani at the company's Annual General Meeting. | Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

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