‘Love between brothers’: India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani helps sibling avoid jail

Mukesh Ambani is now Asia’s richest man, worth $54.3 billion, according to Bloomberg News. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019
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‘Love between brothers’: India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani helps sibling avoid jail

  • Ambani brothers Mukesh and Anil fell out spectacularly after their rags-to-riches father died in 2002 without a will
  • Anil would have been jailed if he failed to pay 5.5 billion rupees ($77 million) to Sweden’s Ericsson by Tuesday

MUMBAI: The epic feud between India’s Ambani brothers has taken a new twist with the older and now vastly richer brother paying a debt owned by his struggling sibling, helping him avoid jail.
Mukesh and Anil Ambani fell out spectacularly after their rags-to-riches father died in 2002 without a will, leaving them to fight for control of his Reliance Industries conglomerate.
With their mother acting as peacemaker, they eventually agreed to split Reliance, at the time India’s most valuable listed company, and to stay out of each other’s sectors.
Mukesh’s half has thrived while Anil’s has tanked. Mukesh, 61, is now Asia’s richest man, worth $54.3 billion, dwarfing Anil’s assets of some $300 million, according to Bloomberg News.
Mukesh and his family live in a 27-story luxury Mumbai skyscraper believed to have cost more than $1 billion to build and regularly referred to as the world’s most expensive home.
Anil’s Reliance Communications is believed to have debts of around $4 billion and started insolvency proceedings in February.
That same month his woes deepened when the Supreme Court ruled he would be jailed if he failed to pay 5.5 billion rupees ($77 million) to Sweden’s Ericsson by Tuesday.
Reliance Communications dropped a bombshell late Monday by saying that the debt had been settled — implying that none other than Anil’s big brother had paid the money, prompting a humbled thank you.
“My sincere and heartfelt thanks to my respected elder brother, Mukesh, and (his wife) 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,” said Anil, 59.
“I and my family are grateful we have moved beyond the past, and are deeply grateful and touched with this gesture,” he added in a statement.
Mukesh’s decision may not have been driven entirely by a desire to bury the hatchet, however.
Monday’s short statement did not say whether the payment was a gift or a loan but some Indian media reported that it may have been compensation for a deal between the two that recently collapsed.
Anil had hoped to offload his company’s telecom tower and spectrum business to his brother’s Reliance Jio for $2.4 billion.
But the deal, which hit regulatory hurdles and opposition from creditors, was confirmed dead by both companies on Tuesday.
It is also not the first time that the brothers have appeared to make up.
In 2011, they came together to dedicate a memorial to their father, and their mother Kokilaben declared the enmity over, telling reporters: “There is love between the brothers.”
But five years later the elder sibling sparked a brutal price war in the Indian telecom sector, launching his ultra-cheap Reliance Jio mobile network in 2016 — bringing Anil’s Reliance Communications to its current predicament.


US wins WTO ruling against China grain import quotas

Updated 19 April 2019
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US wins WTO ruling against China grain import quotas

GENEVA: The United States won a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Thursday against China’s use of tariff-rate quotas for rice, wheat and corn, which it successfully argued limited market access for US grain exports.
The case, lodged by the Obama administration in late 2016, marked the second US victory in as many months. It came amid US-China trade talks and on the heels of Washington clinching a WTO ruling on China’s price support for grains in March.
A WTO dispute panel ruled on Thursday that under the terms of its 2001 WTO accession, China’s administration of the tariff rate quotas (TRQs) as a whole violated its obligation to administer them on a “transparent, predictable and fair basis.”
TRQs are two-level tariffs, with a limited volume of imports allowed at the lower ‘in-quota’ tariff and subsequent imports charged an “out-of-quota” tariff, which is usually much higher.
The administration of state trading enterprises and non-state enterprises’ portions of TRQs are inconsistent with WTO rules, the panel said.
Australia, Brazil, India, and the European Union were among those reserving their rights in the dispute brought by the world’s largest grain exporter.
In a statement, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue welcomed the decision, saying China’s system “ultimately inhibits TRQs from filling, denying US farmers access to China’s market for grain.”
If China’s TRQs had been fully used, $3.5 billion worth of corn, wheat and rice would have been imported in 2015 alone, it said, citing US Department of Agriculture estimates.
The two WTO rulings would help American farmers “compete on a more level playing field,” the USTR statement said, adding: “The (Trump) Administration will continue to press China to promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.”
The latest WTO panel said that the United States had not proven all of its case, failing to show that China had violated its public notice obligation under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in respect to TRQs.
China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Friday it “regrets” the panel’s decision and that it would “earnestly evaluate” the panel’s report.
China would “handle the matter appropriately in accordance with WTO dispute resolution procedures, actively safeguard the stability of the multilateral trading system and continue to administer the relevant agricultural import tariff quotas in compliance with WTO rules,” it said.
Either side can appeal the ruling within 60 days.