Anil Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Group. Photo: AFP / The Times of India

Beleaguered business tycoon Anil Ambani, who is struggling to pay off mounting debts, has broadened his search for a buyer of his stake in Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management (RNAM).

Initially, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Capital had approached its Japanese partner Nippon Life Insurance Company to buy its 42.88% stake in RNAM, which manages mutual fund business.

Though the Japanese asset manager is yet to make an offer, Reliance Capital has begun talks with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Singapore-based Temasek, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, and private equity funds Blackstone and The Carlyle Group, Business Standard reports.

Nippon Life has the “first right to offer”, but Reliance Capital can choose to ignore it if an offer from a third party is more attractive.

The company has ruled out mergers with domestic mutual fund players as the procedures in accordance with Indian laws could make a merger a long drawn out affair.

RNAM ranks fifth by way of assets under management in the mutual fund industry. As of January, RNAM was managing assets worth 2.43 trillion rupees (US$34.75 billion). In the last fiscal year, it made a net profit of 5.22 billion rupees ($74.64 million).

Reliance Capital wants to get out of the mutual funds business in order to reduce Ambani’s debts. For Reliance Capital the debt exposure is pegged at 180 billion rupees ($2.57 billion).

Anil Ambani’s fortunes began to decline soon after he parted ways with his elder brother Mukesh Ambani, currently India’s richest man, in 2006 and they divided their father’s business empire.

In 2007 Anil’s net worth was $45 billion, according to the Forbes Rich List, while his brother’s was $49 billion. In 2019, Mukesh ranked 13th in the Forbes Billionaire list with a net worth of $50 billion, while Anil’s fortunes had fallen to $1.7 billion, placing him a distant 1,349 in the same list.

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