Our Bureau

Mumbai, Jan. 3

MR Anil Ambani today resigned as Vice-Chairman and Director from Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd (IPCL) board, the company today informed stock exchanges. No reasons were given.

Mr Anil's resignation, addressed to elder brother and IPCL Chairman, Mr Mukesh Ambani, is being seen as another twist in the ongoing tussle between the two over ownership of the Rs 99,000-crore Reliance group.

Investors, however, appeared unruffled.

IPCL closed 5.16 per cent higher at Rs 191.70, up Rs 9.40, on the BSE.

Reliance Industries closed at Rs 543.10, up Rs 9.30, or 1.74 per cent.

Reliance Capital closed at Rs 140.50, up Rs 8.75, or 6.64 per cent.

Reliance Energy closed at Rs 561.85, up Rs 37.45, or 7.14 per cent.

Reliance group sources said Mr Anil Ambani had blamed fellow IPCL Director, Mr Anand Jain, considered a childhood friend and close confidante of Mr Mukesh Ambani, for the rift between the two brothers. He has complained that Mr Jain was running a vilification campaign against him, they said.

Mr Anand Jain's official dealings with Reliance Industries Ltd, the group sources said, had adversely impacted the business image and reputation of IPCL.

Mr Jain was creating a divide between the Ambanis and aggravating differences.

In view of all this, Mr Anil Ambani considered it below his dignity, self-respect and self-esteem to be on the same board with Mr Jain, he is said to have written in his resignation letter.

Mr Anand Jain declined to comment on the matter. " I only want to say that I was appointed director on IPCL board during Dhirubhai's time," Mr Jain told Business Line.

Mr Jain is also the Chairman of Reliance Capital Asset Management Ltd.

IPCL was the only board on which he served along with Mr Anil Ambani.

Mr Anil Ambani, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of group flagship Reliance Industries, first became an IPCL director in August 2002 when the group bought 26 per cent equity in the country's second largest polymer maker from the Government.

He was appointed Vice-Chairman in April this year.

Reliance currently owns 46 per cent equity in IPCL, giving it control over two-thirds of the country's 2.4 million ethylene capacity.

Other members on the IPCL board are Mr Nikhil Meswani, Mr Kamal Nanavaty, Mr S.K. Jain and Mr Anand Jain.

Many industry observers and analysts questioned the rationale behind Mr Anil Ambani's resignation. Said a senior analyst, "Mr Anil Ambani's resignation is a clear indication that the rift between the two brothers has further deepened. This is bad news for the stock in the long run."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 4, 2005)
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