Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani has become the first Indian to enter the top 10 of China’s Hurun Global Rich List; he ranks eighth on the wealth index topped by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The news arrives within a week of the Supreme Court sentencing his brother Anil Ambani to three months in jail if he fails to pay his debts. Formerly the sixth richest man in the world with a staggering $42 bn fortune, the younger sibling, with a current net worth of $1.8 billion, is fighting
How India fares
The report published Tuesday, often regarded as China’s version of the Forbes rich list, noted that this is the first time since 2012 that India has slipped to the fifth rank. “An underperforming rupee and a lacklustre stock market resulted in the country losing one-third of the list,” Hurun Report India Managing Director and Chief Researcher Anas Rahman Junaid said.
“Pharmaceuticals, TMT, and FMCG led the way, with 18, 15, and 10 billionaires, respectively. Mumbai and Delhi are the billionaire capitals of the country with 42 and 25, respectively, finding residence there,” the report said. It concluded that it has been a bad year for media billionaires in India, led by Zee’s Subhash Chandra and Sun TV’s Kalanithi Maran, who also lost their net worth substantially.
How Ambani came on the list
The only Asian in the top 10, Mukesh Ambani’s feat comes a month after Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), where he holds 52% shares, crossed the Rs 8-lakh-crore mark.
With a whopping net worth of $54 billion (Rs 3.83 lakh crore), the senior Ambani, whose successful business ventures extend across nearly every vertical, including telecommunication, retail, and energy, reportedly added $30 billion to his wealth over the last seven years.
Ambani’s flagship Reliance Jio Infocomm announced the launch of international roaming between India and Japan, a first for India’s 4G mobile operators to provide VoLTE-based international roaming services in India. The company expanded its investment in the entertainment sector with acquisitions worth $700 mn in Hathway and Den.
“Having started off similarly after the break-up of the family wealth, Mukesh added $30 billion to his wealth in the last seven years, while Anil has lost over $5 billion during the same period,” says the Hurun report. After the break-up in 2006, Mukesh remained as head of the company’s petroleum, petrochemical, and textiles operations, while Anil regrouped the telecommunications, energy, capital finance, and other operations into a new company.
Reliance’s community initiatives
A decade later, RIL has emerged as a focused and highly integrated petroleum and petrochemicals challenger to the global heavyweights. Two months after the widely
To provide impetus to various developmental initiatives of RIL, he set up Reliance Foundation in 2010 as an expression of its vision towards sustainable growth in India. RIL has since contributed to the nation’s well-being by introducing sustainable measures and providing assistance to institutions and welfare
A large number of initiatives are focused on developing community infrastructure, like community halls, schools, and health centres, and protecting the environment, including water conservation. It also organises skill development and income-generating programmes for local communities, women and youth empowerment drives. Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and the ’eminent’ Jio University are some of Ambani’s famous pet projects.
A glossary for the other 9
In the eighth edition of the annual ranking, Hurun Institute ranked 2,470 billionaires from 67 countries. Wealth was calculated as of January 31 in US dollars; 201 new faces joined the billionaires club, although the creme of the lot retained their top spots.
With an estimated wealth of $147 billion, according to the Hurun list, Bezos topped the global chart, although he may not hold it for long considering his impending divorce with wife Mackenzie, who owns half of his 16% in Amazon. His wealth reportedly rose by $24 bn in the last year, riding on Amazon’s sales last year, which increased by 31% to $232.9 bn.
With a wealth of $96 billion, Microsoft founder Bill Gates ranked second on the Hurun list, followed by Warren Buffet, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway with a net worth of $88 billion.
Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy’s Bernard Arnault at $86 billion came fourth, while Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg with a net worth of $80 billion finished fifth, a spot below last year.
Despite the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the ensuing controversy over privacy, Zuckerberg’s wealth was still up by $1 bn. At 34, he is by far the youngest in the top 10.
Zara CEO Armancio Ortega and Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page also occupied top spots on the list. Chinese billionaire and SoftBank CEO Jack Ma came 22nd.
Is wealth being used to erase the economic gap?
Corporate social responsibility is increased manifold when you are a trillionaire. Despite facing enormous flak for poor employee conditions at Amazon, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos have reportedly donated more money to charity last year than anyone else in the world, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Last year, the couple donated $2 billion to boost nonprofits to help homeless families under their “Bezos Day One Fund”.
Despite his enthusiasm for philanthropy, Gates’ fortune rose $6 billion in 2018, the Hurun report noted.
In 2010, Buffett, Gates, and Zuckerberg signed the “Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge” promising to donate to charity at least half of their
In 2018, Gates pledged to donate $1 bn within five years to fight malaria. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also recently made it its mission to eradicate open defecation and provide safe sanitation worldwide. It also focuses on agricultural development, curbing world hunger, financial services and business loans for the poor, gender equality, and water crisis—working in close collaboration with the US, Europe, China, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa.
Arnault is ranked among the richest people in Europe and has a personal net worth of more than $ 40 billion. He founded the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation in 2006 at a cost of $140 million, which aims to enhance patronage initiatives and promote contemporary art and culture, besides owning a museum in Paris.
But donations have dropped from last year
However, the top 50 donors on The Chronicle of Philanthropy list reportedly donated roughly 50% less than the previous year. Overall donations from world’s 50 top donors dropped from $14.7 billion in 2017 to $7.8 billion in 2018.
Instead of forming a charitable corporation to donate the value of the stock as Gates, Buffett, Page, Brin,
After the birth of his first daughter, Zuckerberg and his wife pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook shares, then valued at $45 billion, to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; it’s a new organisation that will focus on health and education. The donation, however, will be given in installments over the course of their lives. This has drawn strong criticism from several journalists.
Presently, managing the fallout of high-profile data breaches, Facebook needs to invest in community initiatives that address the diversity problem in its offices and take a stand against hate speech and fake news on its platforms.
Carlos Slim Helu, who occupied the sixth rank on Hurun’s list with $
Other wealthy men of India
Among other wealthiest Indians are Hinduja Group Chairman S P Hinduja with a
Steel giant ArcelorMittal’s Lakshmi Mittal stands fifth, followed by Kotak Mahindra’s Uday Kotak ($11 billion), Gautam Adani ($9.9 billion), and Sun Pharma’s Dilip Shanghvi ($9.5 billion). Cyrus Pallonji Mistry and Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry ($9.5 billion each) bracketed off the country’s top 10 richest men with their 18.4% holding in Tata Group.
The gender gap has never been more telling
According to the list, Smita
The total wealth of each woman featured in the top 100 exceeds $146 million, while their average income is around $703 million. Eighty-five of the billionaires on the list are 40 or younger, while only 15.5% of them are women.
The richest woman on the list is 65-year-old L’oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers with $49 billion, which is less than half of Gates’ fortune.
Billionaire trends at a glimpse
As per the report, the number of individuals featured in the 2019 edition has come down to 2,470 from 2,694 in 2018. The cumulative wealth of these 2,470 individuals stood at $9.5 trillion, amounting to 12% of global GDP.
Despite the slowdown in its economy, China with 658 billionaires still outnumbered those from any other country. The US, despite tax cuts and a
The biggest gains in wealth last year came in the areas of technology, media and telecoms, followed by venture capital, real estate
A record 430 billionaires have dropped off the list within a year, as a result of stock market meltdowns in 2018 but also suggesting a non-performing, unsustainable global economy and the impact of geopolitical tensions on trade and corporate profits on the landscape of economic power.
The Washington Post noted how the market meltdowns obliterated $1 trillion or 9% of the fortunes of the world’s richest individuals last year. According to Barrons, “Volatile stock markets combined with a strong dollar wiped off a significant portion of wealth of the world’s richest population.”
“Poor stock market performances and an appreciating dollar were the main reasons for this year’s record drop in billionaires,” Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and lead researcher of Hurun Institute, said in a statement. At the same time, he noted, “The speed of wealth creation is picking up with
He also said he believes the world’s billionaires may number over 6,000, since many seek to hide the extent of their wealth, especially in the Middle East.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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