Ambani Tops India’s Rich as Billionaires’ List Swells

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh D. Ambani
Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh D. Ambani in New Delhi. Photographer: Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg

Mukesh Ambani held his ranking as India’s richest person with net worth of $27 billion as the nation’s economic expansion and a stock market rally created a record number of billionaires, Forbes India said.

Arcelor Mittal Chairman Lakshmi Mittal was second richest with $26.1 billion this year, while Wipro Ltd. Chairman Azim Premji ranked third with net worth of $17.6 billion, the magazine said in an e-mailed statement today. Brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia, whose Essar Group has interests in oil refining, steel and power generation, climbed one level to fourth position with a combined wealth of $15 billion.

An increasing number of wealthy Indians may attract Bill Gates to the South Asian nation to seek pledges of donations for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Rising disposable incomes and consumer demand may this year drive expansion in Asia’s fastest growing major economy after China to the quickest annual pace since 2008.

“We may do an event in India,” Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corp., said today at a philanthropy event in Beijing.

Record Wealth

The Indian billionaires list comprised 69 people, up from 52 last year. The combined net worth of the nation’s 100 wealthiest people climbed to an all-time high of $300 billion this year, equivalent to a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product, the magazine’s statement said.

A 50 percent surge in foreign funds into equities so far this year helped drive the Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index to its highest level in 2 1/2 years this month. More than 72 of the top 100 ranked people saw their wealth increase in the past year, the Forbes statement said.

Savitri Jindal, chairman of Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., was fifth richest with net worth of $14.4 billion. Kalantihi Maran, owner of discount carrier Spicejet Ltd. and founder of Sun Network Ltd., made it into the top 20 this year with his net worth rising 74 percent. He ranked 17 with $4 billion, according to the magazine.

Still, Anil Ambani, who owns the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group with telecom, financial services and power businesses, saw his wealth shrink 24 percent, the biggest reduction, to $13.3 billion, putting him at sixth place. Brother Mukesh’s wealth dropped by 15 percent as lower refining margins and stagnant gas production from the nation’s biggest field led to a decline in Reliance Industries Ltd. share price.

The brothers, who split the family empire in 2005, in May this year by scrapping agreements that had fueled a feud between them.

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