Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, has topped the latest Forbes’ India Rich List with a net worth of US$27 billion, for the third consecutive time. Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, remains at No. 2 with a net worth of US$26.1 billion. However both are less well off than they were a year ago, with 15% of Mukesh’s wealth and 15% Lakshmi’s being lopped off over the year.
India’s rising stock market and a booming economy that is expanding by 8.5% have boosted the net worth of the rich. The combined net worth of India’s 100 richest people is US$300 billion, up from US$276 billion last year. This year, there are 69 billionaires on the India Rich List, 17 more than last year.
Moving up to third position this year is Wipro’s Azim Premji, who was at number four last year. His wealth increased to $17.6 billion from $14.9 billion last year amid an improving outlook for the sector. Among those who lost ground on the list are Anil Ambani, who is now at No.6, down from No.3 last year. Real estate magnate KP Singh too slid two positions to No. 8 this year, buffeted by cross winds in the industry.
Brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia have improved on their previous ranking to No. 4 with a net worth of $15bn. They were at No.5 last year. The IPO of Essar Energy in May, which raised $1.85 billion, was the largest ever listing by an Indian company in London. The record number of billionaires on this year’s Forbes list of 100 Richest Indians is yet another clear signal that the centre of gravity will increasingly shift to India and China over the next decade. Frontline Indian entrepreneurs have once again displayed their ability to harness the unprecedented wealth creation opportunities that exist in this part of the world.
The top four tycoons on the list are worth a combined US$86 billion, short of the $180 billion record they set three years ago, and well shy of the US$150 billion net worth of the four richest Americans. A notable gainer is Ajay Piramal of life sciences firm Piramal Healthcare (No. 37; $1.75 billion). Piramal recently sold part of his company to U.S.-headquartered Abbott Labs.
Also a winner this year is 45-year old media mogul Kalanithi Maran. Ranked No. 17 with a net worth of $4 billion, up by 74% from last year’s $2.3 billion, he is the biggest gainer in percentage terms. The owner of Sun TV Network caused a stir this year when he took more than one-third stake in domestic airline SpiceJet.
Mumbai retains its pre-eminent position as the city that is home to most rich, with 44 of the top 100 coming from the Maximum city.
The threshold of admission to this exclusive club of top 100 has gone up. Last year, you could enter the list if you had just $415 million. This year, you would need $500 million to be included.
The Rich List has five women, among which Jindal family matriarch Savitri Jindal leads with a networth of $14.4bn. At 31 years Dhiraj Wadhawan is the youngest and B.L Munjal & Keshub Mahindra (87 Yrs) are the oldest on the list.
There are five returnees to the top 40 from previous years, three of them pharma entrepreneurs: Ajay Piramal, who sold part of his domestic business to Abbott for $3.7 billion; Pankaj Patel, whose Cadila Healthcare launched India's first swine flu vaccine; and Desh Bandhu Gupta, whose Lupin has gained lately in the U.S. generics market. A prominent returnee is the reclusive Pallonji Mistry, the largest shareholder of Tata Sons, the holding outfit of the Tata conglomerate. He was excluded from the list after he became an Irish citizen but brought back due to his business ties to India.
The Forbes India special Rich list edition, available on the newsstands from 1 October 2010, looks at Wealth creation in the next decade and ways to plan growth in family businesses, apart from profiles and information on the rich.
The top 10 richest in India are:
1 ) Mukesh Ambani; US$27 billion
2 ) Lakshmi Mittal; $26.1 billion
3 ) Azim Premji; $17.6 billion
4 ) Shashi & Ravi Ruia; $15 billion
5 ) Savitri Jindal; $14.4 billion
6 ) Anil Ambani; $13.3 billion
7 ) Gautam Adani; $10.7 billion
8 ) Kushal Pal Singh; $9.2 billion
9 ) Sunil Mittal; $8.6 billion
1 0 ) Kumar Birla; $8.5 billionForbes India Rich List Methodology
• Net worths are compiled using stock prices and exchange rates taken on September 9. Privately held fortunes were valued at book value or by coupling estimates of revenues, profits or book value to prevailing ratios for similar public companies
•To compile these rankings, reporters interviewed rich listers, employees, rivals, investors, fund managers, real estate agents and securities analysts. They also sifted through documents and databases to determine value and ownership of assets.
•Indian citizenship was required to make it to the list.Photographs: Mukesh Ambani - Vikas Khot, Azim Premji - Jagadeesh N/Reuters, Lakshmi Mittal - Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters