Son of Asia s Richest Man, Once Lost 216 Pounds, Gains It Back: Losing the Battle for Family Heir

Ivanka Trump, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg… In recent days, countless global celebrities gathered in Gujarat, India, to bless the wedding of Mukesh Ambani’s son, Anant. Before the wedding, Anant’s story of losing 108 kg (approximately 216 pounds) within 18 months spread across social networks.

However, behind the globally watched luxurious wedding, Anant’s future is not all smooth sailing. As the younger son who has been frail and troubled by weight issues since childhood, Anant could be considered the most worrisome child for his parents. His brother Akash and sister Isha are twins who not only have the “head start” of being older but also hold advantages in experience and time spent in the family business.

The luxurious pre-wedding party attracted global attention, with media commenting that it couldn’t surpass his sister’s wedding in terms of opulence. Last weekend, the small town of Jamnagar in Gujarat suddenly welcomed numerous domestic and global celebrities. The local airport, usually servicing no more than ten flights a day, experienced unusual “traffic congestion” with over 130 flights in a single day, primarily due to chartered flights provided by the Ambani family from Mumbai and Kolkata.

This location is where the Ambani family’s Reliance Group began, close to several major refineries. The Ambani family held Anant’s three-day pre-wedding party here, symbolizing a “never forget the roots” sentiment. Reportedly, about 1,200 guests attended this party frenzy, including many Silicon Valley tech giants and political celebrities like Ivanka. In India, personalities from the arts, sports, and business sectors also made a complete turnout, with well-known Bollywood stars and cricket stars almost all in attendance. International pop star Rihanna and famous American magician David Blaine also performed.

This grand pre-wedding party was meticulous, with guests receiving a nine-page document outlining dress codes and other requirements before departure. The chef team serving the party exceeded 100 people, providing over 500 different dishes for the hosts and guests. To express gratitude to the local residents, the Ambani family even held a public feast attended by over 50,000 people.

Moreover, for the official wedding to be held in July, the Ambani family is sparing no expense, planning to build a Hindu temple and hiring craftsmen and artisans to specially make candles and tapestries.

Despite Anant’s pre-wedding party being the center of attention, Indian media speculated that his party and wedding expenditures might not surpass his sister Isha’s. In 2018, Isha’s wedding in Mumbai and pre-wedding party in a remote desert temple from the 16th century featured high-profile guests like former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan dancing joyfully on stage, with BeyoncĂ© providing the music. BeyoncĂ© brought her entire band and changed outfits multiple times, including Indian national costumes, in a performance that rivalled professional concerts. Local media claimed Isha’s wedding was the most expensive in Indian history, with the Ambani family’s expenditure believed to be close to 100 million USD, a record “likely” not to be broken by Anant.

Anant has twin siblings above him, with his sister shining brightly and playing a significant role in the family business. In the 1960s, Dhirubhai Ambani founded the precursor to Reliance Industries. After going public in 1977, Reliance Industries gradually became a giant in Mumbai spanning multiple industries, later diversifying into Reliance Group and Reliance Telecom among others, each with formidable strength.

After Dhirubhai’s death, a fierce inheritance battle broke out between his sons Anil and Mukesh, with Mukesh eventually turning the tables to control the family’s main assets. As of March 5th, Mukesh’s net worth was 116.9 billion USD, ranking 9th globally and first in Asia on Forbes’ real-time list. Mukesh has three children, including Anant born in 1995 and twins Isha and Akash born in 1991.

Among Reliance Group’s partners and board members, Mukesh’s children’s differences are quite apparent, with Isha being the most dazzling third-generation member, Akash not far behind, but Anant, four years younger, is not as trusted by those outside the family. All three children spent their high school years in Mumbai and pursued higher education in the US, with Isha graduating from Yale University, majoring in South Asian studies and psychology, while Akash and Anant both attended Brown University, not achieving as notable grades as Isha.

After graduating, Isha went through years of hard work within the family business, also making significant contributions. She is considered a key figure in Reliance Group’s foray into the telecommunications industry, with Reliance Telecom now serving over 300 million users and holding a crucial position in India’s telecom industry. Isha, known for her fashion sense, has attended high-society events like the Met Gala in New York, making fashion headlines and expanding the family’s network through her passion for fashion.

Anant, characterized as gentle and conflict-averse, with a love for wildlife and outdoor photography, has been frail since childhood and spent less time in the family business, often focusing on health. In 2017, Anant’s mother Nita publicly expressed concerns over his weight control issues.

As parents, Nita and Mukesh tried to create favorable conditions for Anant not to fall too far behind his siblings, but people outside the family remain skeptical of his capabilities. In October 2014, Mukesh nominated Anant to the Reliance Group board, facing opposition from some shareholders, whereas Isha and Akash’s nominations were unanimously approved. Two consulting firms representing shareholder interests publicly stated that Anant’s “actual ability and industry experience are very limited,” and his board membership “does not conform to the company’s operational principles.”

Local media pointed out that Anant’s lavish pre-wedding party cannot mask his significant lag in the battle for succession, a crucial and sensitive issue for the Ambani family. The second generation’s fight not only tore apart family ties but almost dispersed the family’s wealth. In September last year, Mukesh, the victor of the sibling rivalry, said he would learn from the past, avoid future disputes among his descendants, and prepare them for a smooth transition by involving them in the core aspects of the group early on.

Moreover, some media noted that, given Reliance Group’s control over key sectors of India’s national economy, the Ambani family’s succession issue is “a matter of national fate” to some extent.