After the Bharatiya Janata Party's landslide victory in May's federal
election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi famously tweeted that "good
days are here." Indeed, they're back with a bang for India's 100
Richest. For the first time the top 100 are all billionaires, with
combined wealth of $346 billion, up more than a third from 11 months
ago. Propelled by the euphoria, the stock market has gained 28% since
January, though the economy, growing at 5.7% in the last quarter, has
yet to catch up. Food inflation, hardly the concern of the wealthy,
still hovers at close to double digits.
Click here for the full list of India's Richest
Snatching the biggest bonanza is ports magnate Gautam Adani, who hails
from Modi's native Gujarat state and is known to be the PM's personal
friend. Shares of Adani's companies started soaring ahead of the
elections on hopes of a BJP victory. The gains added close to $4.5
billion to his wealth, more than anyone else. Adani, who jumped 11
spots to No. 11, has since been on a buying spree: He bought a port in
eastern India from the Tata Group for $900 million and agreed to pay
$1 billion for a power plant in southern India.
Fellow Gujaratis Mukesh Ambani and pharma magnate Dilip Shanghvi have
also raked it in. Ambani is No. 1 for the eighth year in a row, while
Shanghvi, richer this year by $4.1 billion, is the new No. 2,
displacing steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, who slips to fifth place. As
many as 85 of the 89 who returned to the top 100 from last year are
wealthier, and several are billionaires for the first time. Among them
are Qimat Rai Gupta, maker of electrical fittings (see story); V.G.
Siddhartha, founder of the Café Coffee Day chain, India's Starbucks;
and brothers Harsh and Sanjiv Goenka, who run their independent
empires and are listed separately.
The rising market restored some to the billionaire ranks, including
property baron Vikas Oberoi and pharma entrepreneur Habil Khorakiwala.
Pharma is on a roll: More than a fifth of the 100 have pharma and
health care riches, among them half of the 8 newcomers, such as
Hasmukh Chudgar, whose Intas Pharmaceuticals was recently valued by
Temasek at $1.4 billion. Entrepreneur P. V. Ramprasad Reddy, one of 3
returnees to the list, came back after four years on a threefold jump
in shares of his Aurobindo Pharma.
The biggest loser this year is Indus Gas founder Ajay Kalsi, who lost
$1 billion after the government stalled an increase in the nation's
natural gas prices. With a record $1 billion as the minimum net worth
this year, 11 from last year fell off, including Brij Bhushan Singal,
whose Bhushan Steel's shares tanked after son Neeraj was arrested in a
corruption scandal. The flamboyant Vijay Mallya, who was tagged by his
bankers as a "willful defaulter," also dropped off.