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Coming into his own

 Anil Ambani

 Anil Ambani

Anil Ambani's Reliance genes are showing. in the third week of October, the 48-YEAR-OLD cmd of Reliance ADAG announced his group's foray into cement; he is planning to set up four plants of five million tonne capacity each near his 4,000-MW coal-fired power project at Sasan in Madhya Pradesh. Analysts believe that the 20-million tonne capacity will catapult the group into the #3 spot in the pecking order of the cement industry, after ACC and Grasim and give it a market share of about 10 per cent.

That's so typical of the man who goes for scale in whatever he does; his Reliance Energy has lined up projects to produce nearly 24,000 MW of power; his Reliance Communications now has the GSM licence for all the 23 telecom circles in the country, in addition to its predominant position in the CDMA segment. And he has quietly and unobtrusively built a massive entertainment and financial services empire along the way.

A former Rajya Sabha MP, Ambani has had his fair share of controversies and runins with the powers that be. Recently, there have been allegations that the Rs 12,000-crore Reliance Power IPO would end up enriching Ambani by Rs 50,000 crore at the expense of ordinary shareholders. His friendship with former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has cast doubts over his plans to set up a Special Economic Zone in the state under new Chief Minister Mayawati. Moreover, his long running rivalry with his brother.currently simmering over a disputed gas supply agreement.shows little sign of abating.

But all this has not deterred this alumnus of the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, from single-mindedly pursuing his dream of making his business empire the biggest in India. His efforts have already made him the sixth richest person in the world with a net worth of $32.4 billion. When he split with his brother two years ago, many in the media had wondered how he?fd fare without the umbrella of the powerful empire his father had built over him. His relentless march since then has silenced the sceptics for now.