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Mallya, Goyal in battling billionaires list

April 18, 2008 17:04 IST

It is a new Forbes list and covers rich people and their fights, but for a change the Ambani brothers are not its India connection -- rather, Vijay Mallya and Naresh Goyal have made to the magazine's battling billionaires list for their fight to lord over Indian skies.

"The two are now going tit for tat connecting Indian cities to foreign hubs," Forbes noted, while listing out eight pairs of the 'battling billionaires' from across the world.

Both Goyal and Mallya had figured in Forbes' annual list of world's billionaires published earlier last month, where Mukesh and Anil Ambani were named as two richest in India.

Their net worth was recorded as $ 43 billion and $ 42 billion respectively. The two Ambani brothers separated over two years ago with a family settlement reached in June 2005.

However, the two groups have grown stronger since then and currently figure among the country's most valued business houses. The two regularly feature on the lists of world' richest billionaires.

Earlier in October 2007, Mukesh and Anil had made it to another Forbes list -- Billionaire Family Feuds, with the recognition being bestowed on them because of their fight.

"Sometimes fighting has a silver lining, as has been the case for Indian brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani," Forbes wrote about the two siblings in a report accompanying that list.

However, the US magazine's latest list of eight pairs of battling billionaires has no mention of the two Ambanis. Rather, it has Mallya-Goyal as the only Indian connection.

According to Forbes, Goyal's fortune is valued at $ 1.4 billion, while that of Mallya is $ 1.2 billion.

"Naresh Goyal and Vijay Mallya are both vying for dominance of Indian skies. Goyal is the established player in the country's air travel with Jet Airways. Mallya is the upstart with Kingfisher, an airline he established only a few years ago," it said.

On the latest list, Forbes said that the world's richest can be just as contentious as anyone else.

"The difference is that when they feud, the ante is upped exponentially, putting companies or entire industries at stake," it added.

"When two remarkably successful businessmen have differing opinions on the best way to run something, it's no surprise that neither wants to budge. They got where they are by being right most of the time.

"This self-assurance can turn some of even the strongest billionaire friendships into feuds...," the magazine said.

The list also includes the feud between Russia's Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov. Both used to be best friends and extraordinarily successful business partners once and after creating 'a behemoth of a business empire' together, the two are now figuring out how to split it.

Others on the list are media moguls Mark Cuban and Donald Trump, business software giant Oracle's Lawrence Ellison and Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli as well as Irish billionaires Denis O'Brien, a cellphone magnate, and Anthony O'Reilly, CEO of Independent News & Media.

It also includes the fight between Barry Diller and John Malone -- former the Chairman and CEO of media giant IAC (InterActiveCorp) that owns Home Shopping Network among other properties, while the latter is the major shareholder.

Two of France's richest persons Bernard Arnault and Francois Pinault have also been listed for their fight to control luxury goods maker Gucci.

Pinault beat out Arnault for the company, but "only after an acrimonious tug of war that included defamation lawsuits and accusations of bribes".

Another pair is that of casino entrepreneurs Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. "Their latest spat was over parking spaces. Wynn complains that Adelson isn't building enough parking at his Las Vegas projects and the overflow is clogging Wynn's resorts," the Forbes report said.

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