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Ambanis (Reliance Group)

The story of how Dhirubhai Ambani landed in Mumbai with just Rs.500 in his pocket and lived in a chawl with his family, before he struck gold in the textile industry with iconic Vimal brand, is legendry. His successful company called Reliance Textiles, then integrated backwards to polyester yarn, petrochemicals, plastics, petroleum refining and finally into oil and gas exploration so as to control the entire supply chain. The empire was taken over by his elder son Mukesh Ambani after his death, who became chairman and managing director. Anil Ambani, younger of Mukesh Ambani, played the second fiddle as the vice-chairman and managing director. As is wont in such cases, there was soon a tiff between the two brothers and the business was split between them. Mukesh got the flagship Reliance Industries that spans oil and gas exploration, petrochemicals, refining and textiles (since then he has forayed into retail and telecom with Jio juggernaut). Anil, on the other hand, was placed in charge of telecoms, power, and financial services.

Renowned family-owned businesses in India

In India almost two thirds of the richest listed companies are owned by a single family. Such families control enormous amounts of wealth, wield clout, and are inextricably linked to the nation’s growth story. Most of them, about a-century-old, have weathered internal conflicts over ownership and control and ever-changing macro-fundamentals to proliferate against all odds.

All these have led to emergence of new governing patterns and splitting of businesses, sometimes even resulting in relinquishing professional control to outsiders. They have helped the conglomerates adapt to changes and challenges, and emerge stronger and larger eventually.

In this slideshow, we take a look at some such big names shaping the economic contours of the nation.