Mukesh Ambani resigns, son becomes chairman of Reliance Jio

Reliance Industries, the country’s largest private sector company, kicked off a much-anticipated generational change at the top management of its telecom arm on Tuesday, with Mukesh Ambani stepping down from the board of directors of Reliance Jio Infocomm.

His eldest son, Akash (30), a non-executive director, has been named chairman of the country’s largest telecom service provider. Jio is a wholly owned subsidiary of RIL and is credited with bringing about the biggest change in the telecom market by only charging data where voice is free. The change comes at a time when the telecom market is poised for a generational shift with the onset of 5G technology and services.

However, Mukesh Ambani remains the chairman of Jio Platforms, the flagship company that owns all digital services brands, including RJio, and in which major technology companies such as Facebook, Qualcomm, Google, Intel and a large number of PE companies have made investments totaling `1, 52 trillion.

Jio’s entry into the telecom services market in 2016 brought data prices down from about ‘200 per GB to below ’10 GB currently.

Mukesh Ambani, 65, has three children – twins Akash and Isha and youngest son Anant.

With this generational shift in the telecoms business, it is widely expected that the reins of Reliance Retail, another subsidiary of RIL, will soon be handed over to Isha, 30, who is married to Anand Piramal (son of Ajay and Swati Piramal of the Piramal Group). †

Akash and Isha have served on the boards of Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL) – the company that operates supermarkets offering consumer electronics, food and groceries, fashion, jewelry, shoes and apparel, as well as the online retail company JioMart – and Jio Platforms since October 2014.

Anant, 27, was recently inducted as a director at RRVL. He has been a director at JPL since May 2020.

Among other appointments, Pankaj Mohan Pawar was appointed CEO of Reliance Jio for five years from June 27, according to a regulatory filing. Former Union finance minister Raminder Singh Gujral and former CVC KV Chowdary were appointed as independent directors, it added. The two are already on the board of RIL.

Akash, who studied economics at Brown University, was heavily involved in the development and launch of JioPhone in 2017. The device was intended to provide 2G phone users with smartphone-like features that would eventually make them transition to 4G services. He also played an important role in creating a digital ecosystem around 4G.

Akash had also personally led Jio’s acquisitions and investments in the digital space, including Saavn Media,, Glance and Radisys India, in recent years, and was involved in the development of new technologies and capabilities, including artificial intelligence ( AI), machine learning and blockchain.

The increase in Akash comes at a time when telecom players have moved well beyond the provision of voice and data services. They have become the epicenter of the entire consumer digital interface. Access to e-commerce services, over-the-top players, e-education, e-health, et al, is gaining momentum through partnerships with telcos. The launch of 5G services later this year would herald a much bigger change with robotics, AI and machine-to-machine conversations changing the face of the entire industry.

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