Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#171 Cyrus Poonawalla $8.61B

Random fact: His stud farm has bred nine winners of Indian Derbies.


Poonawalla is chairman of the Serum Institute of India, the world's biggest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold. The company reported revenue of 45.7 billion rupees ($714 million) in the year to March 31, 2017. His other assets include stud farms and properties in the Indian cities of Mumbai and Pune.

As of Oct. 17, 2017:
Last change +$95.7M (+1.1%)
YTD change +$611M (+7.6%)
Industry Health Care
Biggest asset Serum Institute of India
Citizenship India
Age 72
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Cyrus Poonawalla's net worth of $8.61B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

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

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Poonawalla's fortune is derived from closely held Serum Institute of India, the vaccine maker he founded in 1966. The company's revenue fell 2 percent to 45.7 billion rupees ($714 million), while net income dropped 15 percent to 20.6 billion rupees in the year ended March 31, 2017.

The valuation was updated on Aug. 21, 2017 to reflect these results and is based on the average price-to-earnings multiple of five publicly traded peer companies: FDC, Unichem Laboratories, Merck & Co., Cipla and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries.

Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold globally, according to its website.

He also said he owns stud farms, about 250 acres of land and properties, and homes in Mumbai and Pune. Valuations for these assets were provided by Poonawalla.


Family: Widowed, 1 child
Education: 1988, University of Pune, PhD

Poonawalla started Serum Institute in 1966 in Pune, India, by raising $12,000 selling horses and borrowing the rest from his father, one of the pioneers of thoroughbred breeding in the country. The closely held group supplies low-priced vaccines for immunizations.

Before founding Serum Institute, Poonawalla had considered making race cars. At age 20, Poonawalla and his friend built a $120 prototype sports car modeled on the Jaguar D-Type. He abandoned the idea when he realized that its commercial production would require a huge investment.

A veterinary expert at the family's stud farm suggested Poonawalla take up vaccine manufacturing. The family farm's retired horses were already being donated to the government-owned Haffkine Institute in Mumbai, which made vaccines from horse serum.

In 1966, Poonawalla founded Serum Institute of India and released its therapeutic anti-tetanus serum within two years. The group introduced a vaccine to protect children from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis in 1974, and a serum for snake bites in 1981. 

Serum Institute began production of the Measles Vaccine M-Vac in 1989 and within a year had become the country's largest vaccine maker.

Serum Institute was accredited by the World Health Organization in 1994 to export vaccines from India and started supplying to United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Children's Fund. The Indian company bought Dutch government-run vaccine maker Bilthoven Biologicals in 2012 in its first overseas acquisition. Serum Institute has used the purchase to add the injectable form of polio inoculation to the oral drops the company supplies to organizations.

Poonawalla's wife, Villo, died at age 67 in June 2010. His only son, Adar, is the chief executive officer of Serum Institute.

  • 1966 Sets up Serum Institute of India in Pune.
  • 1994 Gets accredited by the WHO to export vaccines from India.
  • 1999 Becomes the world's largest producer of measles, DTP vaccines.
  • 2010 Offers H1N1 influenza vaccine in pre-filled syringes.
  • 2010 Wife, Villo, dies at age 67.
  • 2012 Bill Gates visits Serum Institute in Pune and meets Poonawalla.
  • 2012 Buys Dutch vaccine company Bilthoven Biologicals.
  • 2015 Pays $120 million for a former maharajah's residence in Mumbai.