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Born : December 28, 1932, Chorwad, Gujarat, India
Died : July 6, 2002 (aged 69), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Nationality : Indian
Occupation : business tycoon; Chairman ofReliance Industries
Spouse(s) : Kokilaben Ambani
Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, (Gujarati) also known as Dhirubhai, 28 December 1932, - 6 July 2002, was an Indian rags-to-riches business tycoon who founded Reliance Industries in Mumbai with his cousin. Ambani took his company (Reliance) public in 1977, and by 2007 the combined fortune of the family (sons Anil and Mukesh) was 60 billion dollars, making the Ambani's the second richest family in the world, next to the Walton family. Dhirubhai has been one among the select Forbes billionaires and has also figured in the
Sunday Times list of top 50 businessmen in Asia.
Dhirubhai started off as a small time worker with Arab merchants in the 1950s and moved to Mumbai in 1958 to start his own business in spices. After making modest profits, he moved into textiles and opened his mill near Ahmedabad. Dhirubhai founded Reliance Industries in 1958. After that it was a saga of expansions and successes.
Reliance, acknowledged as one of the best-run companies in the world has various sectors like petrochemicals, textiles and is involved in the production of crude oil and gas, to polyester and polymer products. The companies refinery at Jamnagar accounts for over 25% of India's total refining capacity and their plant at Hazira is the biggest chemical complex in India. The company has further diversified into Telecom, Insurance and Internet Businesses, the Power Sector and so on. Now the Reliance group with over 85,000 employees provides almost 5% of the Central Government's total revenue.
In 1986 after a heart attack he has handed over his empire to his two sons Anil and Mukesh. His sons are carrying on the successful tradition of their father.
Early life
Dhirubhai was born on 28 December 1932 at Kukaswada near Chorwad, Junagadh district (now the state of Gujarat, India) to Hirachand Gordhandhas Ambani and Jamnaben in a Gujarati family of modest means. Hirachand Gordhandhas Ambani was a village school teacher with little income. But his wife, Jamanaben knew how to stretch every rupee in a long way. Hirachand and Jamanaben had two daughters - Trilochanaben and Jasuben and three sons - Ramnikbhai, Dhirubhai and Natubhai. Dhirubhai was the second son. Dhirubhai was precocious and highly intelligent. He was also highly impatient of the oppressive grinding mill of the school classroom. He chose work which used his physical ability to the maximum rather than cramming school lessons. When Jamnaben once asked Dhirubhai and Ramnikbhai to help his father by earning money, he angrily replied "Why do you keep screaming for money? I will make heaps of money one day". During weekends, he began setting up onion/potato fries stall at village fairs and made extra money which he gave to his mother.
Life in Aden
When he was 16 years old, he moved to Aden, Yemen. He worked with A. Besse & Co. for a salary of Rs.300 (Present Day $6.49). Two years later, A. Besse & Co. became the distributors for Shellproducts, and Dhirubhai was promoted to manage the company’s filling station at the port of Aden. He was married to Kokilaben and had 2 sons, Mukesh, Anil and two daughters, Nina Kothari, Deepti Salgaonkar. He also worked in Dubai for some time during his early years.
During those days of him, the Yemini Rial was made of pure silver coins and was in much demand at the London Bullion Exchange. Young Dhirubhai bought the Rials, melted them into pure silver and sold it to the bullion traders in London. During the latter part of his life, while talking to reporters, it is believed that he said “The margins were small but it was money for jam. After three months, it was stopped. But I made a few lakhs. In short, I was a manipulator. A very good manipulator. But I don’t believe in not taking opportunities.
Majin Commercial Corporation
Ten years later, Dhirubhai Ambani returned to India and started "Majin" in partnership with Champaklal Damani, his second cousin, who used to be with him in Aden, Yemen. Majin was to import polyester yarn and export spices to Yemen. The first office of the Reliance Commercial Corporation was set up at the Narsinatha Street in Masjid Bunder. It was 350 sq ft (33 m2). room with a telephone, one table and three chairs. Initially, they had two assistants to help them with their business. During this period, Dhirubhai and his family used to stay in a one bedroom apartment at the Jaihind Estate in Bhuleshwar, Mumbai. In 1965, Champaklal Damani and Dhirubhai Ambani ended their partnership and Dhirubhai started on his own. It is believed that both had different temperamentsand a different take on how to conduct business. While Mr. Damani was a cautious trader and did not believe in building yarn inventories, Dhirubhai was a known risk taker and he believed in building inventories, anticipating a price rise, and making profits. In 1968, he moved to an upmarket apartment at Altamount Road in South Mumbai. Ambani's net worth was estimated at about Rs.10 lakh by late 1970s.
Asia Times quotes "His people skills were legendary. A former secretary reveals: "He was very helpful. He followed an 'open-door' policy. Employees could walk into his cabin and discuss their problems with him." The chairman had a special way of dealing with different groups of people, be they employees, shareholders, journalists or government officials. Ambani's competitors allege that he bought off officials and had legislation re-written to suit him. They recall his earlier days and how he picked up the art of profiteering from the then-Byzantine system of controls of Indian officialdom. He exported spices, often at a loss, and used replenishment licenses to import rayon. Later, when rayon started to be manufactured in India, he exported rayon, again at a loss, and imported nylon. Ambani was always a step ahead of the competitors. With the imported items being heavily in demand, his profit margins were rarely under 300 percent."
Reliance Textiles
Sensing a good opportunity in the textile business, Dhirubhai started his first textile mill at Naroda, in Ahmedabad in the year 1977. Textiles were manufactured using polyester fibre yarn. Dhirubhai started the brand "Vimal", which was named after his elder brother Ramaniklal Ambani's son, Vimal Ambani. Extensive marketing of the brand "Vimal" in the interiors of India made it a household name. Franchise retail outlets were started and they used to sell "only Vimal" brand of textiles. In the year 1975, a Technical
team from the World Bank visited the Reliance Textiles' Manufacturing unit. This unit has the rare distinction of being certified as "excellent even by developed country standards" during that period.
Initial public offering
Dhirubhai Ambani is awarded with starting the equity cult in India. More than 58,000 investors from various parts of India subscribed to Reliance's IPO in 1977. Dhiru bhai was able to convince large number of small investors from rural Gujarat that being shareholders of his company would be profitable.
Reliance Industries was the first private sector company whose Annual General Meetings were held in stadiums. In 1986, The Annual General Meeting of Reliance Industries number of first-time retail investors to invest in Reliance. Ambani's net worth was estimated at about Rs.1 billion by early 1980s.
Lota and Fiasco. These companies were primarily registered in Isle of Man. The interesting factor was that all the promoters or owners of these companies had a common surname Shah. An investigation by the Reserve Bank of India in the incident did not find any unethical or illegal acts or transactions committed by Reliance or its promoters.
Death
Final Journey: Dhirubhai Ambani's funeral saw thousands of people attending. Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani can be seen carrying their father's body as per Hindu traditions
Dhirubhai Ambani was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai on June 24, 2002 after he suffered a major stroke. This was his second stroke, the first one had occurred in February 1986 and had kept his right hand paralyzed. He was in a state of coma for more than a week. A battery of doctors were unable to save his life. He died on July 6, 2002, at around 11:50 P.M. (Indian Standard Time).
His funeral procession was not only attended by business people, politicians and celebrities but also by thousands of ordinary people. His elder son, Mukesh Ambani, performed the last rites as per Hindu traditions. He was cremated at the Chandanwadi Crematorium in Mumbai at around 4:30 PM (Indian Standard Time) on July 7, 2002.
He is survived by Kokilaben Ambani, his wife, two sons, Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, and two daughters, Nina Kothari and Deepti Salgaonkar.
Dhirubhai Ambani started his long journey in Bombay from the Mulji-Jetha Textile Market, where he started as a small-trader. As a mark of respect to this great businessman, The Mumbai Textile Merchants' decided to keep the market closed on July 8, 2002. At the time of Dhirubhai's death, Reliance Group had a gross turnover of Rs. 75,000 Crore or USD $ 15 Billion. In 1976-77, the Reliance group had an annual turnover of Rs 70 crore and it is to be remembered that Dhirubhai had started the business with just Rs.15,000 (US$350).
 
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