Anil Ambani may not be a billionaire anymore — here's how he lost it all in just a decade

Anil Ambani, airman of Reliance Group is no longer a billionaire
  • From $42 billion in 2008 to now, Anil Ambani's journey from being a billionaire to losing it all over a span of 10 years.
  • Once amongst the richest men in the world, Anil Ambani fell from grace after his companies’ borrowings swelled, failing to deliver value to him and his investors.

At the Reliance Power press conference in 2008, when the stock markets were a delicious high, a reporter had asked Anil Ambani about his growing personal wealth. “It is all paper money,” Ambani had said, evoking laughs.

Those words turned out to be prophetic. Today, with two of his group companies (Reliance Communications and Reliance Naval) filing for bankruptcy, and the rest in auditing trouble and losses, Ambani is not worth much not on paper, not in wealth, and definitely not on his word.
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The peak of 2008: $42 billion

The peak of 2008: $42 billion

He has been on a slippery slope since then. Once touted to be the sixth richest in the world-- in 2008, he was worth a whopping $42 billion according to Forbes-- today he has reportedly crashed out of the billionaire’s club, although hough Forbes real-time data says that he is worth $1.5 billion.

He was also known to buy his wife, former Bollywood actor Tina Ambani, a yacht worth ₹4 billion in 2008 but by the end of the same year, he lost $30 billion as stock markets crashed, and his net worth dropped to $12 billion. He topped Forbes’ list of ‘Billionaire Blowups of 2008’.

2011: $8.8 billion

2011: $8.8 billion

By 2010, the markets had recovered but the rosy picture painted by his companies had started waning. His now bankrupt Reliance Communications still held promise as it was busy buying 3G spectrum and the company’s dongle business was still technologically relevant. And, he also purchased coal mines in Indonesia to power his electricity-producing business. His net worth had recovered from the lows to $13.7 billion. But that didn’t last long.

The next year was also bad as 2G scam where 122 telecom licences were lost, also got him into trouble. He was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the role he played in promoting Swan Telecom, which had discrepancies around it. His net worth had dropped to $8.8 billion by the end of 2011.

​2013: $5.2 billion​

​2013: $5.2 billion​

By 2013, his fortunes declined in spite of the fact that his power company was losing steam and was planning to give up troubled power plants like Krishnapatnam, which were turning out to be money pits even before they were built. Reliance Infrastructure however was chugging along with high-profile projects like Mumbai Metro under construction. His net worth had declined to $5.2 billion.

2016: $2.5 billion

2016: $2.5 billion

His net worth halved to $2.5 billion in 2016 when the group changed strategy from growth to asset sales. Reliance Power had put assets on the block and was planning to return to projects that it couldn’t sell like Krishnapatnam. The CDMA business of RCom was closed and the subscribed were migrated to GSM networks. And, Ambani had started eyeing his big brother Mukesh Ambani’s entry into telecom as a savior. “A deal of some sort is imminent,” he would repeat at annual general meetings.

2017-2019: The final descent

2017-2019: The final descent

In 2018, he managed to sell Reliance Infrastructure’s Mumbai power distribution business to Gujarat based Adani Group, and also Tilaiya power project. But, its company Reliance Naval was dragged to bankruptcy by its lenders. His networth was at $2.7 billion.

In 2019, came the biggest hit to Anil Ambani as Reliance Communications went into bankruptcy and was ordered by the Supreme Court to pay up the dues to vendor Ericcsson or go to jail. He was bailed out by big brother Mukesh Ambani who shelled out ₹4.5 billion, a day before he was supposed to go to jail.

Skeletons in the Closet

Skeletons in the Closet

In the last one month, his group has been slipping down the rabbit hole as auditors of two of his companies, Reliance Capital and Reliance Infrastructure pointed out discrepancies in the workings of the company group. The latter’s auditors, Pathak H D & Associates said that there is money missing on their balance sheet, and are worried about the ability of the company to carry on as a going concern.


More trouble is awaiting Ambani as three Chinese banks demanded at least $2.1 billion from Reliance Communications, which is twice as much as he is currently worth at $1.5 billion, as per Forbes. Other reports claim that his net worth has dropped to $0.5 billion.
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