AGENCIES, London: How fortunes can change, Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani was a wealthy businessman and now he is not as a result of a “disastrous turn of events” in the telecom market in India. Lawyers defending Ambani told a UK court on Friday as they fought a bid by top Chinese banks to recover $680 million from the Indian businessman.
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd Mumbai Branch, on behalf of itself, China Development Bank and Exim Bank of China, had sought summary judgment against Ambani over an alleged breach of a personal guarantee on a debt refinancing loan of around $925 million in February 2012.
Ambani, 60, denies providing authority for any such guarantee, resulting in the High Court action in the UK – the jurisdiction agreed to as part of the terms of the loan agreement.
At a hearing at the Commercial Division of the High Court of England and Wales in London to set the terms for the “conditional order” granted to three Chinese banks last year against the Reliance Communications (RCom) boss, his legal team sought to establish that his net worth was zero once his liabilities were taken into account.
“The value of Mr Ambani’s investments has collapsed since 2012. The Indian telecom sector in particular has been dramatically hit by the Indian government’s change of policy in relation to the grant of spectrum,” notes his defence.
“Whereas Mr Ambani’s investments were worth more than $7 billion in 2012, they are now worth $89 million, and his net worth is zero once his liabilities are taken into account… Quite simply, he was a wealthy businessman, now he is not,” said his barrister Robert Howe.
While case progresses, the spokesperson said in a statement that Ambani was confident that his position would be fully vindicated once all the facts and the entire evidence is before the Court.