India’s Ambani Leads Billionaire Gains on Modi’s Lead

Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, was the biggest gainer among the world’s billionaires as exit polls signaled Narendra Modi’s opposition bloc would win a majority in the country’s election.

The chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd., operator of the world’s biggest oil refinery complex, added almost $800 million to his wealth yesterday. Ambani has a net worth of $25.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Gautam Adani was the second-biggest gainer worldwide as he added almost $700 million, giving him a net worth of $6.9 billion.

Indian stocks rose to a record yesterday as investors bet Modi will revive an economy growing at almost the weakest pace in a decade. The combined wealth of the country’s nine richest people rose $2.8 billion, accounting for almost half of the $5.9 billion gain among the world’s 200 richest people, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“The main driver is that Modi will get the numbers,” said Christopher Wong, a Singapore-based money manager at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, which oversees more than $300 billion globally. “There is hope that after four years of not much investment, a stable government will be able to facilitate more investments.”

Rising Wealth

Ambani, 57, has added $5.3 billion to his fortune since Sept. 13, when Modi, the chief minister of India’s western state of Gujarat, was named prime ministerial candidate, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The wealth of Adani, who runs the state’s biggest port, has more than tripled from $1.9 billion on Sept. 13.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies will win 249 to 340 seats, according to six exit polls released this week, with 272 needed for a majority. The Congress party and its allies, in power for the past decade, are projected to win 70 to 148 seats. Results will be announced in two days.

The S&P BSE Sensex climbed 1.4 percent to a record 23,871.23 at the close in Mumbai yesterday, and retreated 0.2 percent to 23,815.12 at the close today.

Reliance Industries shares have risen 20 percent since Jan. 22, when opinion polls started showing the opposition party gaining over the ruling Congress party. In comparison, the Sensex gained 12 percent. Adani Enterprises doubled.

Modi improved access to electricity, built more roads and eased investment approvals after taking power in Gujarat in 2001, providing a platform for growth for companies in the state such as Adani Enterprises Ltd., controlled by 51-year-old Adani. Ambani’s Reliance operates two refineries at Jamnagar in the western state of Gujarat.

Gujarat Record

Modi has campaigned on his record in Gujarat, which has outpaced the national economic growth rate in 11 of the past 12 financial years for which data is available. His main opponent is Rahul Gandhi, the 43-year-old scion of India’s foremost political dynasty and vice president of Congress, after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in January he wouldn’t stand for a third term.

India’s economy grew 4.9 percent during the fiscal year ended in March, close to the decade-low growth of 4.5 percent in the previous year, the government estimates. Projects worth $230 billion are awaiting clearance as lawmaking stalled in Singh’s coalition government, according to the Cabinet Committee on Investment.

(Updates with Sensex’s close in seventh paragraph.)
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