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Anil Ambani betting big on US economy

September 29, 2008 11:37 IST

Amid the worsening financial crisis in the US, business publication Forbes has named legendary investor Warren Buffett and Indian billionaire Anil Ambani among the world's richest business people who are investing heavily in the American economy.

The US publication Forbes has drawn up a list of the wealthiest people investing huge sums of money even as the American President feels the country's economy is in danger.

"The world's wealthiest business people are still wheeling and dealing even as President Bush warns 'our entire economy is in danger'," the magazine said.

Other names in the list are Hollywood director Steven Spielberg (net worth $ 3.1 billion), American fund manager John Paulson ($ 4.5 billion), Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing ($ 26.5 billion), Russia's Alexander Mamut ($ 1.2 billion) and Mikhail Prokhorov ($ 19.5 billion), Thailand's beverage tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi ($ 3.5 billion) and Mexican magnate Carlos Slim Helu ($ 60 billion).

Last week, Buffett (net worth $ 50 billion) surprised the Wall Street after deciding to invest five billion dollars into Goldman Sachs at a time when the country saw the fall of Lehman Brothers and distressed sale of Merrill Lynch, among others, deepening the financial turmoil.

Ambani, who has a net worth of $ 42 billion is named along with Spielberg for their American film venture. The Indian billionaire's Reliance Entertainment is pumping in about $ 500 million into the venture.

Noting that there is more billionaire deal-making happening outside the banking industry, Forbes said that Ambani and Spielberg are "putting money on America's love of movies".

The Hollywood director is leaving his employer Viacom to start an independent film studio.

Writing on Spielberg, the magazine said, "He will get more freedom with the help of Anil Ambani, one of the richest men in India. Ambani's entertainment business is chipping about $ 500 million into the venture.

"Ambani, who also owns telecom and power ventures, has been looking for ways to break into American movie business."

On Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investing in Goldman Sachs, the report said the firm is paying five billion dollars for the investment bank's preferred shares that pay a "lush 10 per cent dividend".

According to the magazine, net worths for Americans are taken from the Forbes 400 list, which was published in September. While for others, net worths are from the list of the world's billionaires, published in March.

Li Ka-Shing had bought shares in Bank of East Asia even as there were rumours about bank's financial footing because the "company is exposed to risky collateralised debt obligations and recently revised its first half profits lower".

Meanwhile, Prokhorov has announced that he would buy half of Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital and a smaller financial player APR-Bank, and Mamut would be buying Evroset, Russia's major retailer in the mobile phone market.

Pointing out that "only thing more surprising than the purchase of a Wall Street bank might be an American newspaper," Forbes said that earlier this month, Carlos Slim bought a 6.4 per cent stake in The New York Times.

"Like many of the other billionaires on this list, the world's second richest man is purchasing a depressed asset. Shares of The New York Times are down over 67 per cent over the past five years," the report added.

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