In a volatile year for the global economy, India’s prosperity was maintained by the wealthiest. For the 13th year in a row, Mukesh Ambani remains the wealthiest Indian, adding $37.3 billion to his net worth; vaccine manufacturer Cyrus Poonawalla entered the top 10 at rank 6 as all eyes remain on the antidote, while Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon became the highest percentage wealth gainer and all the pharmaceutical billionaires on the list saw their wealth increase. This year, fewer billionaires saw their fortunes erode than they did in 2019.
Mukesh Ambani, the president of Reliance Industries, was at the top of the list. For the thirteenth consecutive year at number one, his net worth stands at $88.7 billion. With $20 billion in investments in its Jio Platforms mobile services business, his company had a successful year. Two of the world’s biggest technology firms were major investors, Facebook and Google, as were a host of others-KKR, Silver Lake, Mubadala, to name a few. The cash also led to a rerating of the telecom industry with fellow tycoon Sunil Mittal rising up three slots to rank 11 with a net worth of $10.2 billion
Kishore Biyani, founder of Future group fell off the list. With over 2,000 stores in 437 cities, Kishore Biyani took more than three decades to develop Future Group into one of India’s largest retailers. Yet the pandemic fell prey to his empire and Biyani sold it to Reliance Retail, owned by Mukesh Ambani, for approximately $247 billion in late August.
During the pandemic, Future Group had been struggling under heavy debt in the midst of declining demand. Total group debt to be taken on by Reliance was valued at ~191 billion when the deal was announced. “This company was built on ambition and a lot of borrowed money,” says Arvind Singhal, chairman of Technopak Advisors, a Gurugram-based consultancy.
Sanjeev Bikhchandani, co-founder of Info Edge (India), an internet firm, debuts on the list with a fortune of $2.1 billion, thanks to a stock surge of almost 70% over the past year. In the first quarter ended in June, the pandemic meant fewer listings on the company’s classifieds websites, like Naukri.com, India’s largest worksite by traffic share, decreasing net revenue by 10 percent to around 2.8 billion ($ 38 million). In addition, the Noida-based company decreased expenditure to recover from the previous year’s loss and reported a net consolidated profit of $937 million.