Rise of India's Wealth Titans

By siliconindia   |   Thursday, 04 April 2024, 17:44 IST
cmt right
Comment Right
cmt right
cmt right
Printer Print Email Email
Rise of India's Wealth Titans

The Indian stock market has seen a 41 percent rise in wealth among 200 Indians on Forbes' 2024 list of the World's Billionaires, with some doubling their fortunes since 2023, while 25 new Indian billionaires have recently emerged.

The Indian stock market has gained considerable momentum ahead of the upcoming election, which is widely expected to result in a third term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This surge has led to a noteworthy accomplishment, with a record 200 Indians now listed on Forbes' 2024 World's Billionaires list, up from 169 individuals last year. Their combined wealth has soared to nearly a trillion dollars, reaching a record total of $954 billion, marking a 41 percent increase from $675 billion the previous year and surpassing the previous total of $750 billion.

Mukesh Ambani's net worth has increased amidst the booming shares of his Reliance Industries (NSE: RELIANCE) conglomerate, rising to $116 billion from $83 billion. This achievement positioned him as the first Asian to join the exclusive $100 billion club on the World’s Billionaires list. Ambani is the ninth wealthiest individual globally and retains the title of India’s and Asia’s richest person. Amid his business commitments, including the $8.5 billion merger of Viacom18 Media and Walt Disney Company’s India operations, Ambani also hosted a grand event in Jamnagar to celebrate his youngest son Anant’s upcoming July wedding. The three-day event in March hosted 1,600 guests, including notable figures like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Ivanka Trump, and featured performances by Rihanna and several Bollywood superstars.

The most significant increase in wealth among Indian billionaires this year is attributed to Gautam Adani. He is an infrastructure and commodities magnate whose fortune rose by $36.8 billion, cementing his status as India’s second wealthiest individual. Adani Group (NSE: ADANIENT), comprising Adani Enterprises, Adani Green Energy, and Adani Power, forms his holding, currently ranked 17th with a total wealth of $84 billion.

Savitri Jindal is the wealthiest Indian businesswoman, politician, chairperson, and emerita of O.P. Jindal Group and Maharaja Agrasen Medical College president. Last year, the O.P. Jindal group went public with its infrastructure division, propelling her to fourth place among India’s wealthiest individuals, up from sixth place a year ago. She has a net worth of $33.5 billion.

Most Indian billionaires on the list experienced an increase in wealth compared to the previous year. Notably, a dozen of them doubled their fortunes since 2023, including Kushal Pal Singh, a prominent real estate developer whose firm DLF (NSE: DLF) benefited from a thriving real estate market. Singh’s wealth now stands at $20.9 billion, ranking him at No.92 globally, although it remains below his peak in 2008 when he held the eighth position globally with a wealth of $30 billion.

However, two individuals among the top ten Indian billionaires witnessed a decline in their wealth. Cyrus Poonawalla, known for his vaccine empire through the Serum Institute of India, decreased his fortune to $21.3 billion due to dwindling sales of COVID-19 vaccines. This shift has moved Poonawalla to the sixth rank among India’s wealthiest individuals from his previous fourth place.

Another notable decline was observed in the wealth of steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, whose shares in ArcelorMittal (AMS: MT) dipped amidst a sluggish market. He is now ranked as India's tenth richest individual, dropping from fifth place last year; Mittal was the third-richest globally in 2005.

Twenty-five new Indian billionaires have recently entered the scene, representing various industries and accomplishments. Among these notable individuals is Naresh Trehan, renowned for his expertise as a cardiac surgeon and now a successful healthcare entrepreneur leading the Medanta chain of hospitals in north India. Ramesh Kunhikannan has made a mark with Kaynes Technology (NSE: KAYNES), supplying electronic systems pivotal to India’s recent moon mission. This mission's success, powered by Kunhikannan's technology, included the rover and lander functionalities.

Renuka Jagtiani, overseeing the Middle East retailing giant Landmark Group, has inherited her wealth from her late husband, Micky Jagtiani, who founded Landmark and passed away after an extended illness last year. Regrettably, the past year saw the loss of prominent Indian billionaires: Keshub Mahindra, chairman emeritus of Mahindra & Mahindra (NSE: M&M), Ashwin Dani of Asian Paints (NSE: ASIANPAINT), and Micky Jagtiani.

After a brief absence, a dozen individuals have reclaimed their positions on the billionaire list. Noteworthy among them is Raamdeo Agrawal, a veteran in financial services who is joined by his business partner Motilal Oswal, who is making his debut this year. The resurgence of India’s infrastructure development has also brought back Virendra Mhaiskar, an expressway builder, after a 13-year hiatus.

Conversely, four individuals from the previous year's list are absent this time. Notably, Byju Raveendran, once a standout in the edtech sector with Byju’s, faced multiple challenges leading to a valuation markdown by BlackRock to $1 billion, significantly lower than its peak valuation of $22 billion in 2022. Rohiqa Mistry is the other name, whose exclusion is attributed to disclosures revealing that her late husband Cyrus Mistry's share of the family's wealth was tied to a substantial stake in Tata Sons. Her sons, Firoz Mistry and Zahan Mistry, inherited this wealth. However, as they hold Irish passports, they are not included among Indian billionaires.

The robust performance of India's stock market has catalyzed a notable upsurge in both the number of billionaires and the aggregate wealth they command. Emerging players from various sectors, alongside established luminaries reaffirming their positions, underscore India's formidable presence on the global wealth spectrum. Nonetheless, this trajectory is full of obstacles, as certain enterprises encounter hurdles, and select prominent individuals find themselves excluded from this elite cohort. Nevertheless, the trajectory for Indian billionaires remains promising, poised to continue influencing and molding the nation's economic terrain in the foreseeable future.