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'Indian billionaires lose $212 bn since last year'

world Updated: Nov 13, 2008 15:35 IST

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India's richest have suffered a value erosion of a massive US$ 212 billion largely due to the global financial turmoil, which took a toll on the equity markets as well as property prices, Forbes says.

Mentioning that these are painful times for India's tycoons, Forbes said compared with the last year, the net-worth of the country's 40 wealthiest people fell by US$ 212 billion to US$ 139 billion.

The combined net-worth of India's 40 richest has nosedived by 60 per cent, hitting steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal the hardest, as he had to vacate the four-year held Numero Uno position to Reliance Industries' Mukesh Ambani.

Mittal saw his fortune drop by US$ 30.5 billion amid declining steel prices. Last year, Mittal had a net-worth of US$ 51 billion.

Meanwhile, the Ambani Brothers - Mukesh and Anil together lost as much as US$ 60.7 billion since the past year.

The wealth erosion was across the board as on an average 33 of the 34 people that returned to the list this year have become poorer by at least 20 per cent, Forbes said.

"Thirty three of the 34 tycoons who returned to the our rankings of India's richest are at least 20 per cent poorer than they were a year ago," the magazine said.

"Only one fortune from last year's ranks increased, that of brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, who sold their 34 per cent stake in Ranbaxy Laboratories to Japan's Daiichi Sankyo at a hefty premium to its current stock price. They added US$ 550 million to their combined wealth," it added.

The factors that were responsible for pulling down the fortune of these billionaires include the massive erosion in the country's benchmark index that fell as much as 48 per cent since last year. Besides, the rupee depreciating 24 per cent against the dollar and slowdown in GDP growth has also impacted the list.

Last year, 54 billionaires were there out of which 14 could not make it to the list of the 40 richest but this time around there were only 27, Forbes said.

Real estate fortunes were among those hit the hardest, as there was a significant downtrend in this space following the global credit crunch.

DLF's K P Singh lost US$ 27.2 billion since last year but is down an astonishing US$ 39 billion since his DLF stock peaked in January. Besides, property tycoon Ramesh Chandra's net-worth dropped by a massive 91 per cent to US$ one billion as last month as Unitech lost half its market capitalisation in a single day.

While, some of the other billionaires were beaten to dust but for entirely different reasons like wind power man Tulsi Tanti who has lost as much as 91 per cent along with his brothers amid reports about the poor quality of Suzlon's wind blades.

Others with pharmaceuticals fortunes outperformed the market, but due to the sliding rupee, their net-worth fell too. Dilip Shanghvi of SunPharma was poorer by US$ 800 million, despite an increase in his net worth in rupees.

Around six people dropped out of the list after losing a collective US$ 7.9 billion. The drop-out list includes liquor and airlines baron Vijay Mallya, and Ballarpur Industries' Gautam Thapar.

While, four newcomers replaced the barons - Micky Jagtiani, who oversees a retailing empire in the Middle East, and Hemant Shah, son of a Bollywood film producer, who made his fortune in construction.

Meanwhile, Yusuf Hamied, head of generics producer Cipla, and Hero Group patriarch Brijmohan Lall Munjal have made it to the list after a a year's gap.