Forbes India rich list 2019: Mukesh Ambani retains top spot, Adani second

RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani
Reliance Industries' Chairman Mukesh Ambani has bagged the top spot in Forbes' list of the richest Indians for the year 2019 in what the American business magazine said was 'a challenging year' for the Indian economy. This is the 12th time in a row that Ambani -- whose wealth swelled to $51.4 billion this year -- has topped the list.

"He added $4.1 billion to his net worth as Jio, the three-year-old telecom unit of his Reliance Industries, became one of India’s biggest mobile carriers with 340 million subscribers," Forbes said.

The effect of a slowing economy was visible on the list. Overall, the total wealth of tycoons on the 2019 Forbes India Rich List shrank 8 per cent to $452 billion from a year ago and more than half of India’s 100 richest saw a decline in their net worth, the magazine said.

Despite this, some tycoons saw big gains to their fortunes. 

One of them is infrastructure tycoon Gautam Adani, who jumped eight spots to no.2 this year with a net worth of $15.7 billion on the back of a permission he secured after a nine-year wait to start work on an Australian coal mine. He has also ventured into a slew of new businesses from airports to data centers.

Ambani and Adani were followed by the Hinduja brothers (net worth of $15.6 billion), Pallonji Mistry ($15 billion), and banker Uday Kotak ($14.8 billion).

Naazneen Karmali, Asia Wealth Editor and India Editor of Forbes Asia, said, "While India's slowing economy took a toll on the combined wealth of the nation's 100 richest this year, there were some who defied the odds to charge ahead.. It won't be long before they bounce back."

Six newcomers made their debut on this year’s list: The Singh family (no. 41, $3.18 billion), who inherited the fortune of pharma magnate Samprada Singh, founder of Alkem Laboratories, who died in July this year; Byju Raveendran (no. 72, $1.91 billion), the 38-year-old founder of fast-rising edtech unicorn Byju’s; Mahendra Prasad (no. 81, $1.77 billion) of Aristo Pharmaceuticals; Manohar Lal and Madhusudan Agarwal (No. 86, $1.7 billion) of Delhi-headquartered Haldiram Snacks; Rajesh Mehra (no. 95, $1.5 billion), whose family owns the popular sanitary ware brand Jaquar, and Sandeep Engineer (no. 98, $1.45 billion) of Astral Poly Technik.

On the flip side, tycoons linked to autos and consumer goods suffered from weak consumer sentiment. Autoparts maker Vivek Chaand Sehgal’s net worth more than halved to $2.45 billion.

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