Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s net worth has surged to new highs. Aside from being the richest Indian and Asian, Mukesh Ambani is now also part of the exclusive club of the world’s top 10 richest people. As per Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, Ambani’s net worth has jumped to $64.5 billion making him the ninth richest person globally. Ambani is the only Asian tycoon in the top 10.
He overtook Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp. and France’s Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the wealthiest woman, to reach the number nine spot. Ambani’s net worth at the moment is Rs 4.9 lakh crore. It is worth noting that he has added almost $28 billion (Rs 2.13 lakh crore) to his fortune in just four months.
Ambani, who owns 42% of Reliance, has benefited from a flurry of investment into the company’s digital unit, Jio Platforms Ltd., that Reliance said has made it net-debt free ahead of a March 2021 target. The shares of the Indian conglomerate have doubled from a low in March, just as other billionaires on the list have been hit by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Indian economy “has been nearly decimated” during the lockdown to control the spread of COVID9, “Ambani’s companies (particularly the telecom giant Jio) have prospered, and his personal wealth has increased substantially,” said Jayati Ghosh, chair of the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The rise of the 63-year-old as India heads for its worst-ever recession is a reminder of the nation’s deep economic divide, in which the top 10% hold more than three-quarters of the total wealth, and where most new fortune creation stays in the hands of the richest 1%. Ambani lives in a 27-story mansion in Mumbai, known as Antilia, that has three rooftop helipads, parking for 168 cars, a 50-seat movie theater, a grand ballroom with crystal chandeliers, three floors of Babylon-inspired hanging gardens, a yoga studio, and a health spa and fitness center.
RIL has raised Rs 1.75 trillion against its net debt of Rs 1.61 trillion, through a 24.71% stake sale of equity of Jio Platforms to 11 investors, a rights issue and stake sale to UK-based multinational oil and gas giant BP. At its Friday closing price, RIL became the first Indian company to have a market capitalisation of more than $150 billion.
Ambani sold nearly half a quarter stake of Jio Platforms to Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR, Mubadala, ADIA, TPG, L Catterton and PIF, and raised Rs 115,693.95 crore. The company said PIF’s investment marks the end of Jio Platforms’ current phase of the stake sale.
Note that with these flurry of investments, Ambani’s net worth has surged in the last few weeks. In fact, the billionaire has made more than what he lost during the lockdown. RIL has added Rs 1.75 trillion to its market capitalisation in the last six months. The company recently declared itself net debt-free, nine months before the actual deadline of Ambani’s promise of becoming one.
Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos leads the list of world’s billionaires with a net worth of $160.1 billion. He’s followed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ($108.6 billion), LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault ($102.8 billion), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($87.9 billion), Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett ($71.4 billion), Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ($70.5 billion), Google co-founder Larry Page and Sergey Brin ($68.1 billion and $66 billion).
Mukesh revels in being the biggest. In India, Reliance officially became just that last year, when it surpassed state-owned Indian Oil Corp. to become the country’s largest company by revenue. At Reliance’s annual shareholder meeting in August, which is covered like a national event including by its media and entertainment arm, Network18 Ambani called it the “golden decade of Reliance.” He celebrated the group’s growing list of superlatives: the largest telecom enterprise by subscribers, revenues and profit; a retail arm larger than all other major retailers combined; an oil giant that makes India’s largest export.
“We are also incubating newer growth engines,” Ambani said at the time, adding that he hoped the digital-driven expansion could be more inclusive. “No power on earth can stop India from rising higher.”