Asia’s Richest Person Re-Joins $100 Billion Club as Stock Surges - Hindustan Times

Asia’s Richest Person Re-Joins $100 Billion Club as Stock Surges

Bloomberg |
Jan 12, 2024 11:10 AM IST

Mukesh Ambani is once again a centibillionaire.

(Bloomberg) -- Mukesh Ambani is once again a centibillionaire.

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The richest person in India — and in Asia — saw his wealth climb $2.8 billion to $101.8 billion Thursday, as shares of his flagship, Reliance Industries Ltd., rose 2.6% to close at a record high. He’s returning to the $100-billion club for the first time since June 2022, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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Ambani, Reliance’s chairman, owns 42% of the company, which has businesses in the energy, telecommunications and retail sectors, among others. Its shares have climbed 22% from a low in October after the firm reported a jump in quarterly profit. 

The billionaire is the 12th-richest person in the world, ahead of L’Oreal heir Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.

With a fortune spanning oil refining to supermarkets, Ambani is an outlier among the world’s richest, who predominantly made their fortunes in tech. His rise up the wealth rankings has been steadier than the roller-coaster ride of his compatriot Gautam Adani, India’s former richest person. Adani lost more wealth than anyone else in 2023 after a withering short-seller attack and now sits two spots behind Ambani on the index.

Ambani, 66, has helped build Reliance into India’s largest company by market value. In recent years, the business has diversified beyond its fossil-fuel origins toward technology and renewable energy. The listing last year of Reliance’s financial services unit, Jio Financial Services Ltd., helped to broaden the sources of Ambani’s wealth even further.

While Jio shares have only gained about 1% since going public in August, the company remains India’s third-largest shadow lender by market value. The firm ultimately wants to develop India’s version of WeChat, a super app that centralizes online shopping, video streaming, digital financing and stock trading, people familiar with the plans have said. In its first set of earnings since it was spun out of Reliance, Jio reported that quarterly profit doubled. 

Read More: Asia’s Richest Man Bets He Can Revolutionize Finance in India

Ambani, who was locked in a bitter succession feud with his younger brother Anil about two decades ago, is seeking to avoid a similar power struggle among his three children and has handed operational reins to them.

Last year, his eldest son, Akash, an alumnus of Brown University, took over as chairman of wireless operator Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., while younger son Anant took on the group’s renewable energy flank. His daughter Isha, a Yale University graduate and a former McKinsey & Co. consultant, oversees the group’s retail business. All three were appointed to Reliance’s board in August last year.

--With assistance from Anto Antony and Jack Witzig.

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