As many businesses struggle to keep afloat amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s wealth is growing at an astounding pace. He has gained Rs 90 crore per hour, or Rs 1.5 crore per minute, since the March lockdown, according to the IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List 2020.
Ambani’s wealth has surged 73 per cent this year to Rs 6.58 trillion and he retains the richest Indian title for the ninth consecutive year. He is also the richest individual in Asia.
His wealth is now “bigger than the combined wealth of the next 5 on the list”, said Anas Rahman Junaid, MD and chief researcher, Hurun India.
In the calendar year 2020, RIL has been among the top wealth creators at the bourses, with a rise of 48 per cent. From the March 2020 low, when it had plunged to Rs 867.82, the stock has gained 158 per cent to over Rs 2,200 now, helping Ambani fortify his position at the top.
The UK-based Hinduja brothers (S P Hinduja, along with his three brothers) are a distant second in the rich list, with joint wealth of Rs 1.44 trillion. The brothers saw the valuation drop by 23 per cent due to a lacklustre performance of their flagship companies such as IndusInd Bank, Gulf Oil, and GOCL Corporation Ltd. In the past few months, they made headlines as Srichand Hinduja's daughter moved court, seeking control of her father's assets. The matter is still pending.
The Hindujas are followed by HCL Technologies founder Shiv Nadar at third spot, Gautam Adani & family at fourth, and Azim Premji at fifth on the list.
Given the stellar initial public offer of Happiest Minds, its founder Ashok Soota
made a debut on the list, with wealth totalling Rs 3,700 crore. Radhakishan Damani, founder of Avenue Supermarts, on the other hand, broke into the top 10 ranking.
Acharya Balkrishna of Patanjali Ayurved is ranked 18th on the list, with wealth of Rs 46,800 crore, and is ahead of Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla group, who is at 22nd spot.
Interestingly, 11 professional managers made it to the list. With Rs 11,300 crore in his kitty, the richest professional is Thomas Kurien, 60, who encashed his stake in US-based tech giant Oracle. Ignatiius Navil Noronha, 45, CEO of Avenue Supermarts, is the richest CEO based in India, with wealth of Rs 3,200 crore.
The cumulative wealth of the Indian billionaires stands at Rs 60 trillion –- up 20 per cent from 2019. India now has 179 billionaires in USD terms -– up 13 per cent from last year. After the US and China, India has become the third-fastest billionaire generator globally, the report suggests.
The number of Indians with over Rs 1,000 crore wealth stands at 828 in the 2020 edition of the report. Of these, 627 increased their wealth in 2020, with 162 being new entrants in the list.
The list compilation was done using a cut-off of August 31, when the rate of exchange to the US dollar was Rs 73.67.
“About 28 per cent of the upswing in wealth on the list has been bestowed by Mukesh Ambani, bespeaking Ambani's meteoric success post diversifying from oil to telecom and retail. A further 21 per cent of the additional wealth has been generated by pharma, mainly on the back of the rise in healthcare spends and a realigned priority towards personal healthcare stimulated by the Covid-19,” said Junaid of Hurun India.
With wealth of Rs 4,500 crore, Ritesh Agarwal (26) of Oyo Rooms is the youngest person on the list, and with wealth of Rs 5,400 crore, Dharam Pal Gulati (96) of MDH, a spice company, is the oldest.
Nearly 5 per cent of the list (40 individuals) comprises women, with Smita V Crishna of Godrej being the richest, with wealth totalling Rs 32,400 crore. She was followed by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon, with wealth of Rs 31,600 crore. The average age of women on the list is 61 years.
The hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine saw Cyrus S Poonawalla of Serum Institute of India (SII) occupy the sixth position on the list. Poonawalla’s wealth increased 6 per cent to Rs 94,300 crore.
In August 2020, SII had announced its partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to deliver up to 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to India and other low and middle-income countries.
Geographically, Mumbai is the residential capital of India’s wealthy with 217 individuals, who form 26 per cent of the rich list, followed by New Delhi and Bengaluru.