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India's richest 100 see dramatic changes in net worth this year

A dramatic change in the pecking order at the top kept collective wealth flat

Published: Oct 12, 2023 07:00:00 AM IST
Updated: Oct 12, 2023 03:11:14 PM IST

India's richest 100 see dramatic changes in net worth this year

After hosting the G20 Summit in New Delhi this September and becoming the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon, India is on a high. Reflecting that sentiment, the stock market rose 14% since we last measured fortunes. But that jump, tempered by a weaker rupee, isn’t reflected in the collective net worth of India’s 100 Richest, which flatlined at $799 billion.

Check out the list: India's 100 Richest 2023

That leveling off was due to a dramatic shift in the pecking order at the top of the rankings. Mukesh Ambani, who transformed his Reliance Industries into a diversified conglomerate, reclaimed the No. 1 spot with a net worth of $92 billion. Shortly after spinning off and listing Jio Financial Services, which has an asset management joint venture with BlackRock, Ambani cemented his succession plan by appointing his three children to Reliance’s board as non-executive directors in August. (His wife, Nita, stepped down.)

The fortune of infrastructure magnate Gautam Adani, who rose meteorically to overtake Ambani as India’s richest person for the first time last year, reversed dramatically after a damaging report by U.S. short seller Hindenburg Research in January sent his group’s shares tumbling. (The group denied any wrongdoing.) Despite recovering somewhat since, his net worth, which includes that of his family, fell by a whopping $82 billion to $68 billion—down the most in both dollar and percentage terms—and he slipped back to No. 2.

Software tycoon Shiv Nadar climbed two spots to return to No. 3 as shares of HCL Technologies jumped 42% in the past year amid a tech rebound. Matriarch Savitri Jindal, of the O.P. Jindal Group, a power and steel conglomerate, is at No. 4 with $24 billion, up 46%, thanks partly to the September IPO of ports unit JSW Infrastructure by her hardcharging son Sajjan Jindal.

Other big gainers this year include Inder Jaisinghani, whose wealth is up the most in percentage terms, as his wires and cables company, Polycab India, benefited from increasing electrification and nearly doubled his family’s fortune to $6.4 billion. Pharma brothers Ramesh and Rajeev Juneja got a handsome 64% boost from the May listing of their Mankind Pharma.

With the minimum net worth rising to a record $2.3 billion, gaining entry to India’s 100 richest club is getting harder. There are only three new entrants this year: Renuka Jagtiani, chairwoman of Landmark Group, a Dubai-headquartered retailing giant, takes the spot of her husband Micky Jagtiani, who died in May. The Dani family of Asian Paints are the heirs of patriarch Ashwin Dani, who died in September after a brief illness. The third is garment exporter K.P. Ramasamy, founder and chairman of K.P.R. Mill. Srichand Hinduja, the eldest of four brothers, died in May and that fortune is now listed under the Hinduja family.

There are seven returnees this year, including healthcare entrepreneur Ranjan Pai, who cashed out $1 billion fromselling part of his stake in Manipal Health Enterprises to Singapore’s Temasek. Eight from last year dropped off, including couple Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath, whose ed tech firm Byju’s saw its valuation marked down drastically amid myriad challenges.

Editing assistance and reporting by Anuradha Raghunathan. Additional reporting by Gloria Haraito and Phisanu Phromchanya.

Acknowledgements: Amnish Aggarwal, director of research, Prabhudas Lilladher; Shrikant Akolkar, pharma analyst, Asian Markets Securities; Kajal Gandhi, vice president, ICICI Securities; Deepak Jasani, head of retail research, HDFC Securities; Mahesh Narayanan, chief marketing growth officer, Netcore Cloud; Arvind Singhal, chairman, Technopak; Praveen Subramanya, managing director, International Association of Certified Valuation Specialists

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