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India Rich List 2013: Newcomers

Inspiring stories which made it to the list for the first time

Published: Nov 8, 2013
Ravi Pillai
Image: Mohammed Al-Shaikh / AFP Photo for Forbes India
Ravi Pillai

34.   Ravi Pillai
$1.7 billion
Source: Construction
Age: 60. Married, 2 children
Residence: Bahrain
A farmer’s son, Ravi Pillai migrated to Saudi Arabia after his small construction business in his native Kerala went bust due to a workers’ strike. With help from a well-connected local partner who put
in capital, he started over and eventually built RP Group of Companies, a construction heavyweight that specialises in building refineries. The richest newcomer to India’s Top 100, he claims to be among the biggest employers of Indians in the Middle East: 80 percent of his staff of 70,000 is Indian. He has used his Gulf riches to invest back home, picking up stakes in banks, hotels and real estate. Pillai says his real home is the sky because “I’m always travelling”.


40.   MA Yusuff Ali

$1.6 billion
Source: Retail
Age: 57. Married, 3 children
Residence: Abu Dhabi

Born in a small Kerala village, MA Yusuff Ali immigrated to Abu Dhabi in the 1970s to join his family’s trading business. His first LuLu store opened at the peak of the Gulf War as a purveyor of value-for-money goods. Nowadays his flagship $5 billion (revenues) LuLu Group International has 106 retail outlets in the Middle East, Africa and India. It opened its first mall in Kochi, where he also has a stake in its airport, two Marriott hotels and a Grand Hyatt hotel. He lobbied the Abu Dhabi government for a crematorium for Hindus and now heads a committee that runs it.

43.   Vijay Chauhan
$1.5 billion
Source: Biscuits and confectionery
Residence: Mumbai

Along with younger sibling Raj and cousin Sharad, he controls the family’s cookies and confectionery giant Parle Products, whose Parle-G glucose biscuit is the world’s biggest brand by volume. Its other popular brands are Monaco, KrackJack, Hide & Seek, Mango Bite and Poppins. The $1.3 billion (estimated revenues) company was co-founded by his late father Kantilal Chauhan as a confectionery maker in 1929 in Mumbai. Today, son Ajay and nephews Arup and Samar run operations at the privately held firm, which has 10 factories, 100 contract manufacturers and sells in 40 countries.

mg_72585_sunny_varkey_280x210.jpg
45.   Sunny Varkey
$1.4 billion
Source: Education
Age: 56. Married, 2 children
Residence: Dubai

Son of Indian expatriates who went to Dubai in 1959, Sunny Varkey never went beyond high school. In the 1980s, he took over management of his parents’ Our Own English School and transformed it over three decades, doing everything from laying bricks for school buildings to driving the school bus. Today his GEMS Education is the largest operator of private kindergarten-to-grade-12 schools in the world. It has a network of 124 schools with over 130,000 students, 11,000 teachers, all over the Middle East, Africa, Europe, China, and India. The business also has a consultancy that advises governments and non-profits. Bill Clinton is honorary chairman of his Varkey GEMS Foundation, which aims to have a positive impact on the lives of 100 impoverished children for each child enrolled at a Gems school. 

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47.   Ravi Jaipuria
$1.36 billion
Source: Soft Drinks
Age: 58. Married, 2 children
Residence: Delhi

Youngest of three brothers, Ravi Jaipuria joined the family’s soft drinks business in 1985 after studying and working in North America. A family split in 1987 left him with a Coca-Cola bottling plant, which he switched to Pepsi. Now his privately held $850 million (revenues) RJ Corp is PepsiCo’s biggest bottler in India and also has a presence in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mozambique, Zambia and Morocco. In March, he bought his elder brother’s lucrative Delhi franchise for PepsiCo for an undisclosed sum, cementing his hold in the market. Son Varun oversees Nike franchises, and has 11 stores. Devyani International, named after Ravi’s daughter, has franchises for Pizza Hut, KFC and Costa Coffee.

Images: Getty Images

48.   Samprada Singh
$1.35 billion
Source: Pharmaceuticals
Age: 87. Widower, 3 children
Residence: Mumbai

A farmer’s son from a village in Bihar, Samprada Singh worked at a chemist’s store before venturing out on his own, distributing pharmaceuticals. He later got into manufacturing in Mumbai with a friend. But that unravelled, and he broke away to set up Alkem Laboratories in 1973. Today it is one of the nation’s top 10 generic firms, known for such brands as Clavam and Taxim, both antibiotics. Singh says he wants to more than double Alkem’s revenues to $1 billion by 2016, by expanding into overseas markets. Younger cousin Basudeo Narain Singh, who shares the fortune, helps him run the company. Alkem’s offices are decorated with photos of Singh with the quote: “Yet miles to go. Yet a lot to be done.”

53.   Kuldip & Gurbachan Singh Dhingra

$1.23 billion
Source: Paints
Age: 66. Married, 3 children
Age: 63. Married, 3 children
Residence: Delhi

Brothers Kuldip and Gurbachan Singh Dhingra control 75 percent of Berger Paints India, the country’s second-largest paint maker, whose soaring shares earned them a spot on the list for the first time. The company is benefiting from rising profits and a well received March deal, in which it acquired a decorative paints unit from the Indian arm of US-based Sherwin Williams Paints for an undisclosed sum. Set up in 1923, the company saw several changes in ownership until 1991, when the brothers, who had their own small paints unit, bought it from liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya. The company also has operations in Nepal, Bangladesh, Russia, Poland and Cyprus and collaborations with Sweden’s Becker and Japan’s Nippon Paints.

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Image: Getty Images

 64.   Nirav Modi
$1.01 billion
Source: Diamond Jewellery
Age: 42. Married, 3 children
Residence: Mumbai

A third-generation diamantaire who grew up in Belgium, Nirav Modi dropped out of Wharton and moved to India in 1990 to work with his jeweller uncle. In 1999 he left to set up Firestar International, which today has revenues of $1.3 billion and manufacturing units in India, Russia, Armenia and South Africa. Modi, who aspires to be the Cartier of India, got noticed when his Lotus necklace with a rare Golconda diamond was auctioned by Christie’s for $3 million in 2008. He is launching his first retail store in Delhi next year.

 69.   Sanjay Singal
$900 million
Source: Steel
Age: 53. Married, 3 children
Residence: Delhi

Eldest son of Brij Bhushan Singal (No. 54), Sanjay Singal was embroiled in a decade-long feud with his father and younger brother Neeraj. After a family settlement in 2011, all cross-holdings were removed. He now runs unlisted Bhushan Power & Steel, worth $1.8 billion (revenues). It has seven steel plants in northern and eastern India and counts Baring Private Equity as a minority investor. Wife Aarti is vice chairperson; daughter Radhika is married to Saurabh Dhoot, nephew of Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot (No. 30).

76.   Murli Dhar & Bimal Kumar Gyanchandani

$800 million
Source: Consumer Goods
Age: 65. Married, 4 children
Age: 53. Married, 1 child
Residence: Kanpur

Brothers Murli Dhar and Bimal Kumar Gyanchandani transformed their family’s small soap-making venture into RSPL Group, a consumer product empire. Its claim to fame is Ghari, a low-cost detergent made by flagship Rohit Surfactants, now India’s second-largest detergent brand after Unilever’s Wheel. Brothers, who reportedly have been mulling a public listing of the privately held firm, have handed over day-to-day operations to the next generation: Bimal’s son Rohit (after whom the company was named) handles marketing; Murli Dhar’s sons Manoj and Rahul also work in the group.

80.   Ramesh Juneja
$770 million
Source: Pharmaceuticals
Age: 60. Married, 2 children
Residence: Delhi

Former salesman Ramesh Juneja started his career at pharma firm Lupin, but left in 1983 to start
his own generics venture with two brothers. The siblings fell out, and he and one younger brother Rajeev pooled their savings of $80,000 to start Mankind Pharma in 1996. Today it is among the country’s top 10 pharma firms, with revenues of $385 million, known for making affordable medicines available in the smallest of towns. Its portfolio of 300 products includes over-the-counter medicines, such as emergency contraceptive pill Unwanted-72 and pregnancy kit Prega News. While Mankind is privately held, the brothers sold a minority stake to a private equity firm in 2007.

 81.   PNC Menon
$760 million
Source: Real Estate
Age: 64. Married, 3 children
Residence: Dubai

Starting with a small woodworking outfit in India, PNC Menon built a multimillion-dollar empire straddling India and the Middle East. He got into interior decorations in Oman and went on to embellish palaces across the Middle East. Menon derives his fortune from Sobha Developers, of which he owns 60.6 percent, and real estate projects in Dubai, new information on which gets him on the list. Son Ravi leads the Indian business where Sobha, named after Menon’s wife, is known for having built campuses for Infosys. Was briefly a billionaire in 2007, when Sobha debuted on the Indian bourses and was oversubscribed 126 times. Menon plans to give away half his fortune, though he hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge.

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Image: Amit Verma

 93.   Abhay Firodia
$680 million
Source: Automobiles
Age: 68. Married, 4 children
Residence: Pune

Abhay Firodia is chairman of Force Motors, maker of vans, pick-up trucks, SUVs and tractors, which has been run by son Prasan since 2009. It was founded by Abhay’s late father Navalmal Firodia, in 1958, and was formerly known as Bajaj Tempo, when it was a joint venture with the Bajaj clan. The families fell out in 1968 after a bitter feud but continued to have stakes in each others’ companies. The bulk of his fortune is from his family’s holdings in Bajaj companies, including Bajaj Auto.

 95.   Amit Jatia
$665 million
Source: Fast Food
Age: 46. Married, 2 children
Residence: Mumbai

Fast food tycoon Amit Jatia debuts on the rich list by virtue of his family’s majority ownership in Westlife Development, the master franchisee for McDonald’s in the fast-growing markets of western and southern India. The group operates 174 McDonald’s outlets in 17 cities; has segregated kitchens for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Family’s BL Jatia Group also has interests in specialty chemicals, lubricants and real estate. Jatia has a degree in Hamburgerology from Hamburger University in Oakwood, Illinois.

100.   Atul & Sagar Chordia
$635 million
Source: Real Estate
Age: 48. Married, 2 children
Age: 41. Married, 2 children
Residence: Pune
Brothers Atul and Sagar Chordia founded Panchshil Realty, which has built some of Pune’s most recent landmarks. Upcoming projects: A luxury residential condo designed by Philippe Starck, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel and India’s first Trump Tower. Atul, who has an eye for design, got start as property broker and set up Panchshil in 2002; his brother joined a year later. The duo is building a Bulgari Hotel in the Maldives in their first overseas venture.

(Additional reporting by Anuradha Raghunathan & Saritha Rai)

(This story appears in the 28 November, 2013 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Sahdev Singh

    Good work...!

    on Nov 8, 2013
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