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Quantum leaps: Nine billionaires who saw their wealth soar

Wealth of these nine tycoons has swelled the most since Forbes India's first Rich List

Sayan Chakraborty
Published: May 18, 2018 04:09:25 PM IST
Updated: May 18, 2018 04:25:02 PM IST

Quantum leaps: Nine billionaires who saw their wealth soarBenu Gopal Bangur hails from a storied business clan in Kolkata
Image: Goutam Roy for Forbes India

In 2009, a little over $400 million could have earned you a place in the club of 100 richest Indians. Reeling from the aftermath of the global financial crisis, India was home to just 52 billion-dollar fortunes that year, led by Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani. Ranked 52nd on the 2009 Forbes India Rich List was Anand Jain—a childhood friend of Mukesh Ambani and chairman of Jai Corp—who, with a net worth of $1 billion, stood at the border line dividing the billionaires from the millionaires.

Those were testing times for Indian Inc. Uncle Sam had sneezed (read: The subprime crisis hit) and India too had caught the flu. So much so that the Sensex, which first breached the 21,000 mark in January 2008, shed 64 percent of its value by October that year.

Cut to 2017, and India is once again an economic force to reckon with. Today, the country is home to more than 100 three-comma fortunes (still led by Ambani, whose wealth in 2017 stood at $38 billion) and the price of entry to the Forbes India Rich List has jumped to $1.46 billion. Ranked 52nd on the 2017 Forbes India Rich List was Ashwin Choksi of Asian Paints with a net worth of $2.95 billion.

Forbes India takes a look at nine Indian businessmen whose wealth increased the most (in percentage terms) between 2009 and 2017.

Benu Gopal Bangur
Shree Cement
Increase in wealth between 2009 and 2017: 746%

The Kolkata-based Bangur family patriarch, Benu Gopal Bangur, was worth $780 million in 2009. In 2017, 87-year-old Bangur had a net worth of $6.6 billion, a whopping 746 percent increase. In January 2000, shares of Shree Cement could be picked up for ₹55 apiece, which looks insignificant compared to its price in September 2017—₹18,500. Currently run by his son Hari Mohan Bangur and grandson Prashant, Shree Cement has seen revenues soar to ₹8,937 crore in FY17 from ₹5,688 crore the year before. With a market cap of ₹60,207 crore, Shree Cement is second only to UltraTech Cement’s ₹112,203 crore. The promoter group holds about 65 percent of the company.

Quantum leaps: Nine billionaires who saw their wealth soar
Karsanbhai Patel delisted Nirma in 2012
Image: Alok Brahmbhatt

Karsanbhai Patel
Increase in wealth between 2009 and 2017: 620%

The low-profile Karsanbhai Patel, 73, saw his wealth skyrocket from $500 million in 2009 to $3.6 billion in 2017. Nirma, the company he set up in 1969, made its mark with the eponymous low-cost detergent powder brand, before branching out to personal care, soda ash and even cement. In July 2016, Nirma beat Ajay Piramal and the Jindal family’s JSW Cement to buy French cement major Lafarge’s India operations for $1.4 billion. Patel delisted Nirma in 2012. At the time, the promoters held about 77 percent of the company.

Quantum leaps: Nine billionaires who saw their wealth soarMadhukar Parekh (left) is a chemical engineer
Image: Joshua Navalkar

Parekh family
Pidilite Industries
Increase in wealth: 600%

Madhukar Parekh, 71, assumed charge as chairman of Pidilite Industries, makers of the Fevicol adhesive, in 2013 after the death of his father Balvant Parekh, who set up the company in 1959. The Parekh family’s wealth grew by 600 percent to $4.75 billion between 2009 and 2017. Pidilite’s shares have since grown significantly under the leadership of Parekh, a chemical engineer, from ₹248 apiece in May 2013 to ₹794 in September 2017. The company’s revenue surged by about 46 percent to ₹4,975 crore between FY17 and FY13. The Parekh family owns around 70 percent of the company, whose market cap stood at ₹56,311 crore as on May 2, 2018.

Quantum leaps: Nine billionaires who saw their wealth soar
Sameer Gehlaut founded Indiabulls as a brokerage firm
Image: Umesh Goswami /The India Today Group / Getty Images

Sameer Gehlaut
Indiabulls Group
Increase in wealth: 580%

Sameer Gehlaut 43, founded the Indiabulls Group along with Rajiv Rattan and Saurabh Mittal as a brokerage firm. The group, which had interests in real estate, housing finance, infrastructure and power, however, split in 2014 with Gehlaut retaining control of the real estate and financial services businesses. Gehlaut’s wealth surged from $450 million in 2009 to $3.1 billion in 2017. Indiabulls Housing Finance has emerged as one of the country’s top mortgage lenders. Its revenue more than doubled to ₹11,317 crore in FY17 from ₹5,224 crore in FY14. It also owns a 40 percent stake in UK-based OakNorth Bank.

Ashwin Dani, Ashwin Choksi & Abhay Vakil
Asian Paints
Increase in wealth: 567%, 515% and 459% respectively

Asian Paints, one of India’s leading paint manufacturers, was started in 1942 by four friends—Champaklal Choksey, Chimanlal Choksi, Suryakant Dani and Arvind Vakil. The business has grown leaps and bounds under their sons, Ashwin Dani, Ashwin Choksi and Abhay Vakil. The company’s shares grew from ₹88 in January 2009 to about ₹1,130 in September 2017. Revenues for FY17 stood at ₹12,948 crore, an increase of about 42 percent from FY13. The company commands a market cap of ₹1,17,089 crore as on May 2, the highest among Indian paint manufacturers by a fair margin. Consequently, Dani, Choksi and Vakil saw their wealth grow by a whopping 567 percent, 515 percent and 459 percent respectively between 2009 and 2017.

PV Ramprasad Reddy,
Aurobindo Pharma
Increase in wealth: 481%

PV Ramprasad Reddy, 59, saw his wealth increase by 481 percent to $3.14 billion between 2009 and 2017. His firm, Aurobindo Pharma, founded in 1986, manufactures generic pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical ingredients. The company had its share of highs and lows. For instance, in 2016, it was embroiled in a controversy and saw the value of shares decrease after a US FDA inspection made adverse observations about one of its factories. Aurobindo Pharma has since responded to the concerns and got an approval from the regulator. The company’s stock has jumped from about ₹70 in July 2009 to about ₹690 in September 2017. The promoters’ group owns about 49 percent of the ₹36,871-crore company.
Quantum leaps: Nine billionaires who saw their wealth soarHarsh Mariwala set up Marico in 1990
Image: Aniruddha Chowdhury / Mint via Getty Images

Harsh Mariwala
Increase in wealth: 442%

Harsh Mariwala, the 66-year-old chairman of consumer goods company Marico, witnessed a 442 percent increase in wealth between 2009 and 2017. During this time, the Marico group, which owns the popular hair oil brand Parachute and edible oil Saffola among others, saw its shares appreciate from about ₹30 apiece in April 2009 to ₹310 in September 2017. Marico commands a market cap of ₹44,244 crore as on May 2. It currently sells in about 25 countries. Mariwala’s family office, Sharrp Ventures, is managed by his son Rishabh. Mariwala was ranked 33rd on the 2017 Forbes India Rich List with a net worth of around ₹27,000 crore.

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(This story appears in the 25 May, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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