Mukesh Ambani is back to being the wealthiest person in Asia. With a net worth of about $80 billion, the Reliance Industries boss has replaced China’s Zhong Shanshan at the top of the Asian rich list.
The Chinese tycoon is worth $76.6 billion, down more than $22 billion after his bottled-water company fell a record 20 per cent this week, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Ambani spent most of the past two years leading the Asian ranking. Then the listing of two companies allowed Zhong to grab the top spot at the end of December. By early 2021 he had overtaken legendary investor Warren Buffett as the sixth-richest person in the world.
Also read: China’s Zhong Shanshan eclipses Mukesh Ambani as Asia’s richest man
Zhong is the founder and chairperson of the Nongfu Spring beverage company, and the majority owner of vaccine-maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise. Nongfu Spring more than tripled from its initial public offering to a peak in January, while Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise surged as much as 3,757 per cent.
But the rally faded as the Hong Kong and Chinese stock markets crashed this week. Nongfu shares have erased their gains for the year, while Wantai’s posted a record monthly plunge.
Rise in Inequality
Since the virus hit, the rich have become richer and poor poorer. Worldwide, billionaires’ wealth increased by a staggering $3.9 trillion between March 18 and December 31, 2020, says a study report by anti-poverty campaigner Oxfam. The report, titled ‘The Inequality Virus’ throws light on how the pandemic deepened the existing inequalities across the world.
Also read: Ambanis plan zoo with Komodo dragons, 100 species of birds, animals
Using figures from Forbes’ 2020 Billionaire List, Oxfam says the world’s 10 richest people, including the likes of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett, saw their fortunes increase by half a trillion dollars since the crisis began even though the global economy remains smaller than when the pandemic started a year ago.
This global trend was observed in India too. The report observes that Ambani’s wealth more than doubled between March and October 2020.