Almost a decade-and-a-half after a bitter separation, Mukesh Ambani on Monday stepped in to save younger brother Anil from prison by helping him clear the Rs 453 crore Reliance Communications owed Ericsson. The Supreme Court had on February 20 said failure to pay the Swedish telecom major its dues within four weeks would land Anil, who’s chairman of the beleaguered RCom, in jail for three months.
While the divergence in fortunes of the two brothers since the split has been evident to the world for many years now, it was underlined in the starkest possible terms yet by Anil’s statement saying, “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. I and my family are grateful we have moved beyond the past, and are deeply touched with this gesture.”
It also represents another significant milestone in the journey since Dhirubhai Ambani’s death in 2002 – of rancor and rift, a division in the Reliance empire, and personal estrangement, followed in the last few years by a thaw in relations and a degree of rapprochement, especially during the two recent weddings of Mukesh and Nita Ambani’s daughter Isha and son Akash.
It is unclear as to whether the money is in the form of a loan or an outright grant, or is compensation for the deal falling through. On Monday, Jio and RCom officially terminated the various agreements they had signed for the sale of telecom assets.
An RComm spokesman said, “The requisite payment of Rs 550 crore and interest thereon to Ericsson has been completed today in compliance of the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.” The group had earlier deposited over Rs 100 crore; Monday’s payment brings the curtain down on its 18-month-old legal battle with Ericsson.