The gesture by Mukesh Ambani to bail out his brother, Anil, is the latest twist in a sibling saga that has gripped India’s telecommunications industry. A price war started by Mukesh in 2016 nearly put Anil out of business a year later.
By Monday, the deadline was looming and the debt remained unpaid. Then Mukesh Ambani, who’s estimated to be worth more than $50 billion, stepped in.
Reliance Communications said in a statement late Monday that it had made the payment to Ericsson in full, with Anil Ambani thanking his brother and sister-in-law for their help.
“My sincere and heartfelt thanks to my respected elder brother, Mukesh, and Nita, for standing by me during these trying times, and demonstrating the importance of staying true to our strong family values by extending this timely support,” he said.
Shares in Reliance Communications spiked 10% in Mumbai on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Reliance Communications didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The brotherly bailout is striking because Mukesh Ambani played a part in bringing his younger brother’s business to the brink of collapse.
The move triggered a brutal price war, forcing some companies to quit the market altogether, including Reliance Communications.
That deal has now been abandoned, the two companies said Monday. An Indian bankruptcy court will instead auction off Reliance Communications’ mobile assets to pay off the company’s $7 billion debt.
The Ambani brothers have had a tumultuous and often acrimonious relationship. After the death of their father in 2002, they waged a bitter succession battle for control of the vast Reliance business empire that he had spent decades building.
In the end, they divided up Reliance’s array of businesses that cover industries such as energy, retail and financial services. But their fortunes have gone in vastly different directions since then.
In his statement on Monday, Anil Ambani said the siblings have now put their differences behind them.
“I and my family are grateful we have moved beyond the past, and are deeply grateful and touched with this gesture,” he said.