Indian ecommerce has added its first billionaires to the Forbes India Rich List , with Flipkart’s founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal making their debut on the list at No. 86 with a net worth of $1.3 billion each. The combined wealth of India’s 100 richest remains largely unchanged at $345 billion, as compared to $346 billion in 2014. The complete list is available at www.forbes.com/india and www.forbesindia.com , and in the latest issue of Forbes Asia and the upcoming special issue of Forbes India.
Mukesh Ambani, with a net worth of $18.9 billion, tops the list for the ninth consecutive year. Ambani’s net worth is down $4.7 billion from the previous year, on the back of lower oil prices that hit his oil and petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries.
Sun Pharmaceutical’s Dilip Shanghvi retains his No. 2 spot. His $18 billion net worth remains unchanged from the previous year, despite his company’s indifferent performance following its $4 billion acquisition of Ranbaxy Industries.
Wipro chairman, Azim Premji, who had moved up to No. 3 last year, also retains his spot. Premji’s net worth of $15.9 billion is down by $500 million from the previous year. The generous billionaire has pledged 18 percent of his stake in Wipro to his charitable trust, in addition to a 21 percent stake already given. His son Rishad, who oversees the $100 million venture capital fund, Premji Invest, was appointed to Wipro’s board in May this year.
The Indian economy is set to grow at 7 percent this year. However, the fortunes of many on the list have been affected by the fact that the stock market is off by 5 percent from last year and the rupee has fallen 9 percent over the same period.
As many as 10 tycoons have seen their wealth reduce by more that $1 billion over the past year. A notable name among them is that of steel magnate LN Mittal, whose fortune fell by $4.6 billion. His ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, was hit by imports from China. Mittal has slipped three places to No. 8 on the list.
Naazneen Karmali, India Editor of Forbes Asia, said: “After the euphoria of 2014, India is facing a reality check in 2015. This has impacted several big fortunes in the top 100. But India's entrepreneurial spirit remains buoyant as is evident from the dozen new faces on the list.”
There are other bright spots too. Almost half of the 84 returnees to the list are richer. There are also 12 newcomers to the list, including Flipkart’s founders. A notable debutant is Rakesh Gangwal, an airline veteran and co-founder of IndiGo airlines. His company’s upcoming IPO puts him at No. 70 on the list, with a net worth of $1.6 billion. Gangwal teamed up with his friend Rahul Bhatia (up 12 positions from last year to No. 38, $2.4 billion, along with father Kapil Bhatia) a decade ago to start IndiGo.
The biggest gainer in dollar terms this year is Cyrus Poonawalla. The vaccine magnate has seen his wealth increase from $6.2 billion to $7.9 billion over the past year. With the increase in his personal fortune, he also makes his top 10 debut on the list at No. 9. Poonawalla was in the news recently after his purchase of Lincoln House, a heritage property in south Mumbai, for $110 million.
Sourav Majumdar, editor, Forbes India, said: “This year's list reflects the churn in the global economy and the growing clout of emerging sectors like ecommerce in India. While the overall wealth of India’s wealthiest has remained by and large constant, the democratisation of wealth within the list continues. Overall, the list reflects the changes in India’s economy and the resilience of Indian enterprises despite continuing uncertainties in some sectors.”
The minimum threshold for making it to the list has increased from $1 billion last year, to $1.1 billion in 2015. Of the 16 that dropped off the list, a dozen did not make it despite having fortunes that exceeded $1 billion.The top 10 richest in India are :
1) Mukesh Ambani; US$18.9 billion
2) Dilip Shanghvi; $18 billion
3) Azim Premji; $15.9 billion
4) Hinduja brothers; $14.8 billion
5) Pallonji Mistry; $14.7 billion
6) Shiv Nadar; $12.9 billion
7) Godrej family; $11.4 billion
8) Lakshmi Mittal; $11.2 billion
9) Cyrus Poonawalla; $7.9 billion
10) Kumar Birla; $7.8 billion
This list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and India’s regulatory agencies. The ranking lists family fortunes, including those shared among extended families such as the Godrej and Bajaj families. Public fortunes were calculated based on stock prices and exchange rates as of September 11. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded.
(Disclaimer: Reliance Industries owns Network 18, the publishers of Forbes India)