Billionaire Mukesh Ambani has resigned as director of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the digital arm of giant Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries. His son Akash Ambani, formerly a non-executive director, has been appointed as the chair of the Reliance Jio Infocomm board of directors.
Pankaj Mohan Pawar has been appointed managing director of the company and Raminder Singh Gujral and K.V. Chowdary, as additional directors, for five years, subject to shareholder approval.
Reliance Jio is the market leader in India’s telecoms space and the company’s Jio Platforms, where Facebook, Google, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners are investors, operates streaming services JioTV and JioCinema. Mukesh Ambani remains as chair of Jio Platforms.
The mobile and streaming platforms are critical, given recent seismic developments in the Indian media landscape. Earlier this month, a consortium led by the Ambani-backed Viacom18 group paid $3 billion to win an online auction for two packages of digital rights to Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket.
Viacom18 will be able to use IPL cricket to shift users between its linear TV channels and onto Reliance Jio’s digital platforms. Given that India is a mobile led market, poised to reach 1 billion smartphone users by 2026, per the latest Deloitte report, this plays directly to Reliance Industries’ strength. Ambani’s Jio is India’s top mobile services provider with 407 million subscribers out of India’s 2022 total of 1.14 billion mobile users. Of these, some 750 million are smartphone users.
Mukesh Ambani is now 65 and the decision to appoint his elder son Akash, 30, as chair, appears to be a clear succession move.