Anil Ambani's friendship with Modi pays off

Vol 14, PW 14 (13 Jan 11) Midstream & Downstream

Flamboyant smooth-talker Anil Ambani, 52, is finally reaping the benefits of his close friendship with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

It seems Modi is doing everything he can to help Anil set up the proposed 7200-MW gas-fired Jambusar power station in Gujarat’s Bharuch district. As a result, the Gujarat government has now fast-tracked its plans to allot the 1800-acres of land needed for the Jambusar project and should transfer two large unused salt pans to Anil-owned Reliance Power by the end of this month (January).

“This land is located between the towns of Jambusar and Amod and was earlier leased to two salt manufacturers whose leases weren’t renewed,” says a Gandhinagar source. “Why the leases weren’t renewed, I cannot say.

” This Reliance Power station will help Anil challenge the dominance of older brother Mukesh Ambani, 54, in the family’s home state. Mukesh-owned Reliance Industries holds sway in Gujarat with a formidable presence in the state’s refining and petrochemicals sector.

But while Mukesh is the richer and more powerful of the two quarrelsome siblings, Anil has always been known for his superior people skills. “Modi enjoys a good rapport with both brothers,” we hear, “but is friendlier with Anil as he shares Anil’s flamboyant and outgoing nature.

” When Anil first suggested this Jambusar gas-fired project to Modi early last year, he proposed only a 4000-MW station. “But Modi personally persuaded Anil to nearly double the station’s capacity (to 7200-MW),” we learn, “promising him all necessary help.

” Anil has developed close ties with Modi over the years by making it a point to visit the chief minister every time he visits the state. Anil has just two items on his agenda whenever he flies into Ahmedabad using his private jet: to visit the family of his uncle (Dhirubhai Ambani’s elder brother) in the city’s Stadium area and to meet Modi.