Over a decade in financial journalism, I have specialized in covering news that matters to India Inc. and its stakeholders, including developments at India's largest corporations and and MNCs. The subject of my writing has been analysis of strategy, financial performance, M&A and fundraising activity, consumption behaviour and emerging trends in management and leadership. Industry verticals that I have written on include oil & gas, power, infra, metals & mining, auto, telecom, FMCG & retail, and start-ups. I also play the role of an editorial lead for proprietary events like the Forbes India Leadership Award and the Forbes India CEO Dialogues. An alumnus of Asian College of Journalism, Chennai and Jadavpur University, Kolkata, I have worked for publications such as Mint, The Financial Express and The Indian Express before this.
Volatility on the Indian bourses due to global factors like a slowdown in China and low prices of commodities like oil and steel, along with local issues like a delay in demand growth and the capex cycle picking up, led to a decline in the number of Indian billionaires on the Forbes 2016 World’s Billionaires list.
There were 84 Indian billionaires on the 2016 list compared to 90 last year. The combined worth of these 84 billionaires declined to around $274 billion in 2016, compared to $295 billion in 2015. India contributed the fourth highest number of billionaires to the list after the US, China and Germany. Forbes has been publishing the list for the last three decades.
Mukesh Ambani, the 58-year-old chairman of the oil-to-yarn and retail conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), topped the list of Indian billionaires on the list with a net worth of $19.3 billion. He was ranked 36th globally.
The 2016 list of billionaires is a snapshot of their wealth as on February 12, 2016, based on stock prices and exchange rates from that day.
The decline in the number of Indian billionaires in the global pecking order mirrored a worldwide trend that saw the total number of billionaires featured in Forbes’s guide to the world’s richest fall to 1,810 from a record 1,826 a year earlier.
Apart from Ambani, the top ten billionaires from India included Dilip Shanghvi ($16.7 billion), Azim Premji ($15 billion), Shiv Nadar ($11.1 billion), Cyrus Poonawalla ($8.5 billion), Lakshmi Mittal ($8.4 billion), Uday Kotak ($6.3 billion), Kumar Mangalam Birla ($6.1 billion), Sunil Mittal ($5.7 billion) and Desh Bandhu Gupta ($5.5 billion).
Sachin and Binny Bansal (ranked 1,476), co-founders of India’s most valued ecommerce company Flipkart, were the notable new entrants to the world billionaires’ club. A surge of new-age economy firms like Flipkart, which have been leveraging technology to reach new markets with their products and services over the last few years, has led to the emergence of a new breed of young and wealthy entrepreneurs in India, like the Bansals.
The top ranked billionaire on the 2016 list continued to be Microsoft founder Bill Gates with a net worth of $75 billion. The founders of the world’s largest consumer internet firms made their presence felt on the list as well with Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg breaking into the top ten for the first time (ranked sixth) with a wealth of $44.2 billion. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was ranked just above Zuckerberg on the list in fifth position with a net worth of $45.2 billion.
(Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd is the owner of Network 18, publisher of Forbes India)