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Delhi High Court halts insolvency proceedings against Anil Ambani

Anil Ambani, chairman of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, attends the company's annual general meeting in Mumbai, India, September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Prashant Waydande/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Delhi High Court on Thursday halted insolvency proceedings against Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani, the younger brother of India’s richest man, and barred him from disposing of any of his assets.

Anil Ambani, who runs a business group separate from his billionaire brother Mukesh Ambani, had filed a plea with the Delhi High Court challenging the appointment of a resolution professional over a roughly 12 billion rupee ($163 million) personal guarantee that he had given to the State Bank of India for loans to his companies.

His Reliance Communications (RCom), a mobile carrier launched in 2002 with cut-price plans and is currently in insolvency.

Its heavy debt load and a string of losses exacerbated its shutdown as Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries in 2016 launched its Jio telecoms venture, breaking the Indian telecoms market with cheap data plans and free voice services.

Most of Anil Ambani’s other companies, in sectors such as defence, entertainment and infrastructure, have also struggled.

Ambani, the joint heir to Reliance Industries, forced a split in the conglomerate after his father Dhirubhai Ambani’s death in 2002.

In a 2005 deal brokered by their mother, Anil Ambani won control of the power, financial services and the newly built telecoms business, while Mukesh Ambani retained the oil and petrochemicals business.

But Anil Ambani’s fortunes have ebbed since and he narrowly escaped a jail sentence last year with his elder brother coming to his rescue.

Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty; writing by Sankalp Phartiyal; editing by Jason Neely

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