Indian billionaire Anil Ambani has withdrawn a $2.1 billion defamation lawsuit against the New York Times and his estranged elder brother Mukesh, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
A Bombay High Court judge granted Mr. Anil’s request to withdraw the 100 billion rupee ($2.1 billion) suit on Tuesday, spokesman Gaurav Wahi confirmed, though he declined to say why Mr. Anil had decided to drop the litigation.
Two Indian newspapers ” DNA and Mint” which reproduced the 2008 article and the writer, Anand Giridharadas, were also among the respondents.
The dispute focused on two paragraphs of the 4,421—word article, in which Mr. Giridharadas wrote that Mr. Mukesh had allegedly said Mr. Anil had run an “intelligence agency” of lobbyists and spies to keep tabs on bureaucrats and competitors.
Mr. Giridharadas, who is now pursuing a doctorate at Harvard, declined comment and Times lawyers did not respond immediately to a request for comment. A spokesman for Mr. Mukesh also declined to comment.
The move comes amid an apparent detente in a bitter five—year battle between India’s richest brothers.
In late May, they declared a truce, saying they would scrap a contentious non-compete clause in a family agreement after the Supreme Court ordered them to renegotiate the terms of a gas sale deal also enshrined in the family memorandum, which divided their father’s empire.
The Supreme Court decision put the future of Mr. Anil’s gas broking firm, Reliance Natural Resources, in peril, as the family contract which guaranteed gas supply at below—market rates was its primary asset, analysts said at the time.
But scrapping the non-compete clause has freed Mr. Anil to do something he’s long desired- Sell off part of his debt—laden Reliance Communications, India’s second largest telecommunications company.
Mr. Mukesh blocked Mr. Anil’s 2008 attempt to bring in an outside investor, South Africa’s MTN Group, through a share swap, saying the non-compete clause gave him right of first refusal over Reliance Communications shares.
Reliance Communications is now courting bidders like Etisalat, AT&T and MTN Group to sell a 26 percent stake for some $4 billion, which is about twice its current market value.