The 40 richest Indians

November 13, 2008

Lakshmi Mittal is no longer the richest Indian in the world. According to the latest list out by Forbes, that position now goes to Mukesh Ambani (photo). But the global financial crisis has hit the subcontinent hard — with the wealthiest Indians being 60 per cent less wealthy than they were a year ago. Naazneen Karmali has the story in Forbes.

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These are painful times for India’s richest as the ongoing global turmoil drastically reshapes their fortunes. The country’s once soaring stock market fell 48% in the 12 months, the rupee depreciated 24% against the dollar and gross domestic product growth is expected to slow down to 7.5%, partly owing to double-digit inflation.

All of this conspired to knock 60% off the combined fortunes of the nation’s 40 wealthiest. Their total net worth fell $212 billion, to $139 billion, down from $351 billion a year ago.

Last year’s No. 1, U.K. resident Lakshmi Mittal, dropped $30.5 billion amid plunging steel prices, but he slips only a bit, to No. 2. Mukesh Ambani, who oversees petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries, grabs the top spot for the first time, despite losing $28.2 billion in the past year. His estranged brother, Anil, ranked third, is the biggest dollar loser, down $32.5 billion.

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The excesses of the filthy rich

September 23, 2008

In The Times, a report on the big spenders. Among them we spotted a few names from this part of the world. Read on:

Only the Indians can match the Russians in the spending marathon. Their preferred stakes are buildings and weddings. Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s richest man, has bought the nation’s most expensive home, a £117m mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens, from Noam Gottesman, 47, the Israeli-American financier. Mittal also owns the previous most expensive house in Britain, on the same road, which he picked up for £70m. The Indian steel boss blew £34m on a six-day wedding party in Paris for his daughter, Vanisha. It was held at the Palace of Versailles, and Kylie Minogue gave a private performance for 1,000 guests, who drank their way through 5,000 bottles of vintage champagne.

Not to be outdone, India’s richest man, the metals-to-mobiles entrepreneur Mukesh Ambani, whose £43 billion puts him in the top five in the global wealth list, is building the most extravagant private home since William Randolph Hearst built Hearst Castle: a £500m, 60-storey, twin-tower skyscraper on Mumbai’s harbour front. Six floors will be devoted to his 168 imported cars, and there will be a private health centre, an entire floor for entertaining, three floors of Babylon-inspired hanging gardens and three rooftop helipads. About 600 staff will run the gleaming mini-city on the hill.

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India’s billionaire heiresses

September 2, 2008

Daughters of three Indian tycoons the Forbes list of The World’s Billionaire Heiresses (To Be): Vanisha Mittal, Isha Ambani and Pia Singh, daughters of Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani and K P Singh respectively.

No. 1: Vanisha Mittal Bhatia, daughter of Lakshmi Mittal, $45 billion

The second child and only daughter of the world’s fourth-richest man, Vanisha serves on the board of directors of her father’s $103 billion (market cap) company, ArcelorMittal.

No. 2: Isha Ambani, Daughter of Mukesh Ambani, $43 billion

The only daughter of the world’s fifth-richest man, Isha, 16, already holds a stake worth about $80 million in Reliance Industries, the petrochemicals giant her father runs.

No. 3: Pia Singh, Daughter of K.P. Singh, $30 billion

A graduate of Wharton School, Singh pursued a six-week filmmaking course at NYU and later worked in the risk-underwriting department at GE Capital. She now works for her father’s DLF group.

Click here for the full list:


The emperor strikes back

July 19, 2008

The latest on the war between the world’s richest brothers, Mukesh and Anil Ambani. In Tehelka, Veeshal Bakshi reports that Mukesh Ambani is pushing his agenda to silence Anil’s friends.

As Mukesh Ambani visited the Prime Minister’s Office and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s home on Monday to counter demands by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh that would surely hurt his busness, it was clear that the Reliance Industries chairman wouldn’t easily let the government take sides in his latest feud with his younger brother Anil.

As the elder Ambani pressed flesh in the capital’s corridors of power, the buzz was that Anil now has a hotline to the Gandhi residence at 10, Janpath, thanks to his close links with Amar Singh and his party. Mukesh had dashed to New Delhi in his private jet after Amar Singh announced that his party would pressure the government to levy ‘windfall tax’ on private oil refineries that have gained unexpected wealth following the global oil price rise. If such a tax were indeed announced, it would directly hit RIL’s plans to set up the world’s biggest refinery complex in India.

The Ambani brothers — whose gigantic businesses together account for five per cent of India’s economic output — have come a long way since the 1990s, when they jointly worked the corridors of power under the leadership of their father, Dhirubhai, to demolish one business rival after another.

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An Indian tycoon’s tale

June 15, 2008

India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is shaping his country via capitalism, with echoes of Mohandas Gandhi. Anand Giridharadas in The New York Times:

At a recent cricket match here, Mukesh D. Ambani sat in his private box quietly watching the team he owns, the Mumbai Indians. He seemed oblivious to the others around him: his son cheering wildly, his wife draped in diamond jewelry and a smattering of guests anxiously awaiting the briefest opportunity to speak with him.

A minor bureaucrat stood a few rows back, strategizing with aides about how to buttonhole “the Chairman,” as Mr. Ambani is sometimes called. Waiters in baggy tuxedoes took turns trying to offer him a snack, but as they drew near became too nervous to speak.

In the last century, Mohandas K. Gandhi was India’s most famous and powerful private citizen. Today, Mr. Ambani is widely regarded as playing that role, though in a very different way. Like Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Ambani belongs to a merchant caste known as the modh banias, is a vegetarian and a teetotaler and is a revolutionary thinker with bold ideas for what India ought to become.

[Photo: Mukesh Ambani with his daughter, Isha, at a cricket match of the Mumbai Indians, which he owns. NYTimes]

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The world’s costliest home? Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai skyscraper

May 2, 2008

Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey, $2 billion, vaastu-compliant skyscraper, Antilla in downtown Mumbai, when completed, will be the world’s costliest residence. Matt Woolsey has the story in Forbes.

While visiting New York in 2005, Nita Ambani was in the spa at the Mandarin Oriental New York, overlooking Central Park. The contemporary Asian interiors struck her just so, and prompted her to inquire about the designer.

Nita Ambani was no ordinary tourist. She is married to Mukesh Ambani, head of Mumbai-based petrochemical giant Reliance Industries, and the fifth richest man in the world. ( Lakshmi Mittal, ranked fourth, is an Indian citizen, but a resident of the U.K.)

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Take a tour of the world’s costliest home in pictures here.


Indians continue to rock the Forbes billionaire list

March 6, 2008

The Forbes list of billionaires is just out and the Indian billionaire club is thriving. Although China has the most number of new billionaires on The List (28), the wealth amassed by Indian billionaires is more than 3.5 times that of those in China.

India, incidentally, has 19 newbies on The List — with at least one (Sameer Gehlaut of India Bulls) below the age of 40.

And, finally, India has retained its position as Asia’s biggest source of billionaires — 53 of them with a combined wealth of $340.9 billion. India’s Fab Four — Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani and K.P. Singh — retain their place in The List’s T20 (top 20).

Check out the complete list, edited by Luisa Kroll at Forbes:

After 13 years on top, Bill Gates is no longer the richest man in the world. That honor now belongs to his friend and sometimes bridge partner Warren Buffett.
Riding the surging price of Berkshire Hathaway stock, Buffett has seen his fortune swell to an estimated $62 billion, up $10 billion from a year ago.

Gates is now worth $58 billion and is ranked third richest in the world. He is up $2 billion from a year ago, but would have been as rich–or richer–than Buffett, had Microsoft not made an unsolicited bid for Yahoo! at the beginning of February. Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helú now ranks as the world’s second richest person with a net worth of $60 billion.

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