Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#64 Azim Premji $15.8B

Random fact: Dyed his hair white as a young man to be taken seriously at work.

Overview

Premji is the chairman and largest shareholder of Wipro, an information technology and outsourcing company. He owns 56 percent of the Bangalore, India-based business, after transferring more than $4 billion worth of shares to his foundation and private-equity fund PremjiInvest, which manages about $1 billion of his money.

As of July 26, 2017:
Last change -$93.3M (-0.6%)
YTD change +$3.52B (+28.8%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset WPRO IN Equity
Citizenship India
Age 71
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Azim Premji's net worth of $15.8B can buy ...

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troy ounces of gold
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barrels of crude oil

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Premji's wealth is derived from his 56 percent stake in Wipro, an Indian information technology, consulting and outsourcing company. Another 18 percent of its outstanding shares are held by the billionaire in two irrevocable charitable trusts, which fund programs supported by the Azim Premji Foundation. These shares aren't counted in his net worth calculation because of their philanthropic purpose.

Wipro spun off its consumer care, lighting and engineering businesses in April 2013. The valuation of Wipro Consumer Care is based on its financials for the year to March 2016 and the average enterprise value-to-Ebitda multiple of three publicly traded peer companies: Godrej Consumer Products, Marico and Dabur India. The valuation of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering is based on the average enterprise value-to-Ebitda multiple of two publicly traded peers: Dynamatic Technologies and Showa.

Premji also owns almost 3 percent of publicly traded financial holding company JM Financial, which operates a range of services, including investment banking, asset management and brokerage services.

According to a calculation by the Hong Kong-based Center for Asia Private Equity Research, Premji's investment vehicle, PremjiInvest, manages about $1 billion. The company has interests in private equity and publicly traded companies.

Vipin Nair, a spokesman for Wipro, declined to comment of Premji's net worth.

Biography

Birthdate: 7/24/1945
Family: Married, 2 children
Education: 1967, Stanford University, Graduated

Father Mohamed Hasham Premji started selling cooking oil in 1947, after setting up a mill to extract and process peanut oil in Amalner, India. His son, Azim, enrolled at Stanford University in the mid-1960s to study electrical engineering, and dropped out to take over the family business after his father died in 1966. At his first shareholder meeting as the new head of Western India Vegetable Products, one investor advised Premji to step down and let more experienced professional managers take over. He stayed on.

During the next 45 years, Premji would transform the company from a seller of hydrogenated cooking fats, soaps and other consumer products with revenue of $2 million into Wipro, the third-largest Indian software exporter with sales of about $7 billion in the year ended March 31, 2013. When the government forced foreign corporations out of India to strengthen the nation's domestic businesses in 1977, Premji saw that the absence of companies such as IBM would create a market for Indian vendors of computers and software. He hired engineers and built his first minicomputer in 1982. A year later, he released Wipro 456, a spreadsheet program similar to Lotus 123, a top seller at the time. He followed with Wipro's first personal computer in 1986.

When the government reopened the Indian economy in 1991, Wipro's software was no longer protected from foreign competitors, so he put his programmers to work for the corporations that were streaming back in. During the Y2K panic of 1999, Wipro rewrote millions of lines of code for companies such as Weyerhaeuser Co., the world's biggest lumber producer. Dozens of other Y2K clients stayed on as Wipro customers when the crisis passed.

Premji returned to Stanford in 1996 to complete his bachelor's degree, 30 years after dropping out. In 2001, he transferred $125 million of Wipro shares to a philanthropic trust that he was setting up to fund education in India. Nine years later, he donated about $2 billion of Wipro shares to the trust,. In February 2013, he transferred an additional 12 percent stake in the company, worth $2.2 billion then, to the trust. The foundation now holds about 18 percent of Wipro's shares outstanding. He transferred 61 million shares to an independent philanthropic trust in May 2013, lowering his family's stake in Wipro to below 75 percent to meet a new minimum public holding rule. Company founders had to trim their stakes to 75 percent by June 3, 2013, to ensure a public float of at least 25 percent.

Milestones
  • 1945 Azim Premji is born in Mumbai.
  • 1966 Premji's father dies; drops out of Stanford to take over business.
  • 1977 Begins to guide business toward computers, software.
  • 1977 Western India Vegetable Products name changed to Wipro.
  • 1985 Begins selling Wipro personal computers in India.
  • 2000 Already listed in India, Wipro begins trading in New York.
  • 2000 Wipro becomes largest publicly traded software exporter in India.
  • 2010 Donates Wipro shares, then worth $2 billion, to his foundation.
  • 2013 Transfers 12 percent stake, worth $2.2 billion, to his trust.
  • 2013 Spins off consumer care, lighting, engineering businesses.