Mukesh Ambani has regained his spot as Asia’s richest person after rival Gautam Adani tumbled to No. 24 in the world, Forbes said in its Billionaire 2023 list released on Tuesday.
“Adani was the world’s third-richest person on January 24, when he was worth nearly USD 126 billion. A report issued by US short-seller Hindenburg Research later that day, however, sent his companies’ shares plummeting,” Forbes said. His net worth is now USD 47.2 billion and is the second richest Indian behind Ambani.
With a net worth of USD 83.4 billion, Ambani, 65, was ranked at No. 9 on the world billionaire list. “Last year, Ambani’s oil-to-telecom behemoth Reliance Industries became the first Indian company to surpass USD 100 billion in revenue,” Forbes said. Ambani, it said, sidestepped speculation about succession by giving his children key roles last year: Older son Akash is the chairman of telecom arm Jio Infocomm; daughter Isha is the head of the retail business; and younger son Anant works in Reliance’s new energy ventures.
Also read: Starry night at Ambani centre: Indian, Hollywood celebs rock in new-age desi looks
Bezos, Musk among top losers
The 25 richest people in the world are worth a collective USD 2.1 trillion, according to Forbes World’s Billionaires list, down a combined USD 200 billion from USD 2.3 trillion in 2022. “Two-thirds of the top 25 are poorer than they were last year, compared to around half of the list overall,” it said.
No one lost more than Jeff Bezos as Amazon shares crashed by 38 per cent. The drop lopped USD 57 billion from Bezos’ fortune and knocked him from No. 2 in the world in 2022 to No. 3 this year. This year’s second-biggest loser, Elon Musk, had it worse. He lost his title of world’s richest person after his pricey purchase of Twitter, which he funded in part by the sale of Tesla shares, helping to spook investors. Musk, who is worth USD 39 billion less than a year ago, is now No 2.
Bernard Arnault tops the list
With USD 211 billion net worth, Bernard Arnault, the French luxury goods tycoon, tops the list for the first time on the back of a banner year at LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Tiffany & Co., among others.
Musk, 51, with USD 180 billion net worth, is ranked No. 2, followed by Jeff Bezos with USD 114 billion net worth. “There are a record number of Indians on Forbes 2023 list of the World’s Billionaires – 169 in all, up from 166 last year. But their combined wealth faced a reality check, dropping 10 per cent to USD 675 billion, from USD 750 billion on the 2022 list,” Forbes said.
Also read: Elon Musk open to buying collapsed Silicon Valley Bank
Adani triggers Indians’ decline
The majority of that decline came from one high-profile saga: the stock rout of companies in the Adani Group, following a January report of fraud allegations by short-seller Hindenburg Research (allegations the Adani Group has denied).
“The infrastructure and commodities tycoon, who briefly became the world’s second richest person last September and was the world’s third richest person for most of January, slipped to No. 24 globally. He is now India’s second wealthiest citizen,” it said. Adani’s elder brother Vinod was estimated to be worth nearly USD 10 billion “but not counted as an Indian billionaire due to his Cyprus passport”, it said.
With the sheen off the tech sector, software magnate Shiv Nadar’s fortune tumbled 11 per cent from a year ago to USD 25.6 billion, but he retained his position as the country’s third richest person.
Vaccine king retains spot
Despite declining demand for Covid-19 vaccines, India’s vaccine king Cyrus Poonawalla — whose portfolio includes listed financial services firm Poonawalla Fincorp as well as privately held vaccine giant Serum Institute of India — held onto his spot as the country’s fourth richest person, though his net worth fell 7 per cent from a year ago to USD 22.6 billion.
Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal was ranked at No. 5 followed by OP Jindal Group matriarch Savitri Jindal, Sun Pharma’s Dilip Shanghvi and Radhakishan Damani whose Avenue Supermarts owns the DMart retail chain. Kumar Birla is ranked at No. 9 and Uday Kotak at No. 10.
Also read: Adani pins hopes on 20% earnings growth every year to repay $23 b debt
Bengaluru bros among newcomers
Among the newcomers is the youngest Indian billionaire, 36-year-old Nikhil Kamath, who co-founded discount brokerage Zerodha with his older sibling Nithin Kamath (also a newcomer). The Bengaluru brothers are worth USD 1.1 billion and USD 2.7 billion, respectively.
Four people returned to the list this year after previously falling off, including Keshub Mahindra, chairman emeritus of Mahindra & Mahindra. The 99 year-old patriarch is the oldest Indian billionaire and has a net worth of USD 1.2 billion.
Twenty-three people from last year’s list didn’t make the cut this time, including metals magnate Anil Agarwal, who is weighed down by debt, and payments pioneer Vijay Shekhar Sharma, whose One97 Communications has seen its shares steadily fall since its IPO in late 2021 amid increasing competition for its Paytm payments app and prominent investors, such as SoftBank and Alibaba, paring their stakes.
(With Agency inputs)