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Indian billionaires bounce back: Forbes

The number of billionaires in India almost doubled in the past 12 months to 52, mainly thanks to a recovery in global stock markets, a richlist from US magazine Forbes showed on Thursday.

business Updated: Nov 19, 2009 14:31 IST

The number of billionaires in India almost doubled in the past 12 months to 52, mainly thanks to a recovery in global stock markets, a richlist from US magazine Forbes showed on Thursday.

"Happy days are definitely back again for India's richest," said Naazneen Karmali, India editor for Forbes Asia, in a statement accompanying the India Richlist survey.

"This year's list shows yet again that when conditions in the financial markets and the economy are right, India has the scale and resources to produce billionaires faster than most of the countries on Earth."

A rebound in the Mumbai stock exchange, which is up 76 per cent since the start of the year, and continuing economic growth helped enrich the mostly male list of company owners, whose accumulated net worth is equivalent to a quarter of India's gross domestic product.

Last year, the number of billionaires halved to just 27, from 54 in 2007.

"In terms of absolute fortune, we are not at the level we had," Karmali said: "We're back to 52, but in terms of wealth we have not recovered yet."

The head of India's biggest company Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani, is once again the wealthiest person in India. His net worth is estimated at 32 billion dollars, an increase of 54 per cent from 2008.

In second place is steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal who is worth 30 billion dollars, up 46 per cent from a year earlier, Forbes said.

Mukesh Ambani's estranged brother Anil is in third place with 17.5 billion dollars, 40 per cent higher than before.

The richest newcomers were two brothers from energy group Torrent Power -- Sudhir and Samir Mehta -- whose collective wealth was ranked 23rd at 2.02 billion dollars.

The magazine also underlined the higher concentration of wealth in India compared with China.

The 100 richest Chinese are worth 170 billion dollars, less than their Indian equivalents at 276 billion dollars.