Ambani sets up family office branch in Singapore

Financial Express | October 8, 2022

Much in line with global billionaires making a beeline to Singapore, Reliance Industries (RIL) chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani is setting up a branch of his family office in the island nation.

Ambani, Asia’s second-richest man, has already set up an office in Singapore and appointed a person to head it. The family office will recruit additional staff and commence operations immediately, mainly scouting for profitable investment opportunities, sources close to the development said.

“Though the Ambanis had set up a family office in Mumbai much earlier, their investments were majorly into RIL. Even the acquisitions and part stake deals were also routed through RIL,” one source said.

“However, the move — to set up a family office in Singapore — is a clear indication of the family’s intention to tap the rising investment potential in the country, which also has a vibrant start-up ecosystem,” the source added.

The Singapore office, Ambani’s first family office outside the country, is expected to be up and running in 10-12 months.

“Family offices are today taking the lead not only on management of wealth and investments, but also all material issues touching the lives of the promoters, including avoidance of the family conflicts; succession planning; and issues relating to professional management of the businesses addressing the ownership versus management challenges,” Rajesh Narain Gupta, managing partner at legal firm SNG & Partners, said.

Global billionaires and ultra high net worth individuals (UHNIs) are setting up family offices in Singapore, which is now Asia’s top financial centre.

UHNIs who already have family offices in Singapore include Google co-founder Sergey Brin and hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio, who had set up shop in late 2020. Most recently, Oppenheimer Generations, the family office of former De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer, opened a post in the country.

Singapore’s reputation as a safe haven for wealth and for attractive tax incentives, is also leading to an increase in UHNIs setting up family offices in the country. The number of family offices in Singapore jumped fivefold between 2017 and 2019, and almost doubled from 400 at the end of 2020 to 700 in 2021.

According to The Global Financial Centres Index, Singapore has overtaken Hong Kong to become Asia’s top financial centre, and the third in the world. The report released last month had put New York and London in the first and second spots.