The ongoing feud between India's Ambani brothers over gas prices hit a new low yesterday when younger brother Anil launched a media campaign asking the public for their opinions on the dispute.
He commissioned a series of adverts in India's national newspapers asking people to email their views on the argument with his brother Mukesh over gas from the Krishna Codavari Basin. Anil's campaign claims the government's stance in the brothers' disagreement will cause a rise in national power bills. The adverts were launched under the headline "Is this in the public or national interest?"
Mukesh responded with a statement claiming Anil was "indulging in an orchestrated campaign intended to bring into public debate and prejudge the issues that are pending adjudication before the honourable courts."
The row over gas prices stems from a family pact made in 2005 that stated Mukesh's Reliance Industries should supply below-market-price gas to Anil's Reliance Natural Resources. However, Mukesh resisted the agreement and the dispute eventually ended in the High Court in June 2008. The court ruled in favour of Anil and upheld the family agreement.
In a further complication, the government threw the ruling into doubt last month when it questioned the right of the family to set gas prices among themselves and so filed a strongly worded affidavit with the Indian Supreme Court. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)
The affidavit stops the enforcement of the Bombay Court decision until Supreme Court proceedings, referred to by Mukesh in his statement, have come to a conclusion. The proceedings are expected to begin on 1 September.
The disputes between the brothers began after their father's death in 2002 when they had to divide his business empire between them. Now each heads their own conglomerate, Mukesh, 51, has Reliance Industries and Anil, 49, owns Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
The Ambani brothers are two of the most successful businessmen India has produced but they attract more attention for their constant feuding than their business prowess. Mukesh is worth approximately $19.5 billion while Anil's estimated worth is $10.1 billion.
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