Investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, known as India’s own Warren Buffett, dies at 62

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

Ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala passed away in Mumbai on Sunday, August 14. He was 62.

Jhunjhunwala, a stock market veteran, was widely followed by investors across the nation for his equity market strategies. ‘The Big Bull of Dala Street’, as he was widely referred to, was a self-made trader. He was the son of an I-T officer, and is survived by his wife Rekha Jhunjhunwala and three children.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and other political leaders across party lines, as well as industry leaders paid tributes to Jhunjhunwala.

With an estimated net worth of around $5.8 billion (about Rs 46,000 crore), Jhunjhunwala was the 36th richest billionaire in India, according to the Forbes 2021 listing. A chartered accountant by education, he had not been keeping well for the last few months because of a kidney ailment. He was seen in a wheelchair at recent public events. 

Humble beginnings

Starting off his journey in stock markets while still in college with a capital of just Rs 5,000, he recently teamed up with ex-Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube and former IndiGo head Aditya Ghosh to launch Akasa Air, India’s newest budget carrier. The airline began commercial operations this month with its maiden flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. 

Jhunjhunwala began investing with Rs 5,000 in 1985 when the Bombay Stock Exchanges benchmark index Sensex was at 150; it now trades at over 59,000. He had investments in more than three dozen companies, the most valuable being watch and jewellery maker Titan, part of the Tata conglomerate. 

Varied portfolio

His portfolio included companies like Star Health, Rallis India, Escorts, Canara Bank, Indian Hotels Company, Agro Tech Foods, Nazara Technologies and Tata Motors. He was also the chairman of Hungama Media and Aptech and sat on the board of directors of firms such as Viceroy Hotels, Concord Biotech, Provogue India and Geojit Financial Services. 

His 5.05 per cent holding in Titan alone is worth over Rs 11,000 crore. His largest holding is in Aptech Ltd (23.37 per cent), followed by Star Health and Allied Insurance Co Ltd (17.49 per cent), Metro Brands (14.43 per cent), NCC Ltd (2.62 per cent) and Nazara Technologies Ltd (10.03 per cent). 

Born on July 5, 1960 in a Rajasthani family, Jhunjhunwala grew up in Bombay, where his father worked as a Commissioner of Income Tax. He graduated from Sydenham College and thereafter enrolled at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

With agency inputs