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Brick-and-mortar billionaires back on Forbes rich list

By Dev Chatterjee
October 20, 2016 11:49 IST
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Top 100 billionaires see their wealth rise 10%; top 20 account for half of total wealth of top 100.

The top 20 billionaires in the Forbes India rich list have seen their wealth as a percentage of total wealth of top 100 billionaires reduce steadily from 70 per cent in 2009 to 52 per cent in 2016, indicating distribution of wealth becoming more widespread across the list.

The top 100 Indians on the list saw their worth increase by 10 per cent in 2016 over previous year to $381 billion (over Rs 25 lakh crore). In 2015, the wealth of the top 100 had remained almost unchanged.

The top five on the list -- Mukesh Ambani, Dilip Shanghvi, Hinduja brothers, Azim Premji and Pallonji Mistry -- had a combined worth of $83.7 billion. 

The top 50 account for 78 per cent of the total wealth of the 100 richest.

Many billionaires of brick-and-mortar companies have staged a comeback in the 2016 Forbes billionaires’ listings even as Sachin and Binny Bansal, the founders of Flipkart, who debuted in 2015, dropped out. Many of Flipkart’s investors marked down their investments this year in the e-commerce company. Both Bansals were ranked at 86 in the 2015 listing with a net worth of $1.3 billion each.

According to the list, Kushal Pal Singh, the chairman of real estate firm DLF, gained highest, 84.6 per cent, over last year, while Ajay Piramal, chairman of Piramal Enterprises, comes a close second with 82.6 per cent of gain.

Karsanbhai Patel of Nirma, who acquired Lafarge India’s cement business for Rs 9,300 crore in July this year, returned to the list with $2.24 billion of net worth and was ranked 52nd.

Pawan Munjal (rank 29) entered the list for the first time, in place of his late father Brijmohan Lall Munjal. 

Acharya Balkrishna of Patanjali Ayurved also made his debut this year, making it at 48th rank. Tech entrepreneurs Bhavin and Divyank Turakhia (rank 95) also entered the list. The Dalmias of cement firm Dalmia Bharat, at 88th place were also first-time entrants.

Among the other notable returnees to the list this year are: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon (rank 65), Hasmukh Chudgar of Intas Pharmaceuticals (66) and real estate entrepreneur Vikas Oberoi of Oberoi Realty (89). The newcomers accounted for 3.1 per cent of the total wealth, while the returnees brought in 3.5 per cent of the wealth.

There was, however, no surprise with Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, topping the list for the ninth consecutive year, with wealth of $22.7 billion -- more than the GDP of Estonia, a small country in north Europe.

The top wealth losers in percentage terms are Fortis promoters Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, down 22 per cent, followed by pharmaceutical company Micro Labs’ Dilip and Anand Surana, down 18 per cent.

Forbes India also raised its minimum cut-off to figure in the 100 Richest Indians list from $1.1 billion last year to $1.25 billion in 2016.

Image: K P Singh, chairman of real estate firm DLF Ltd, saw his wealth go up by 85 per cent over last year. Photograph: Arko Datta/Reuters.

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Dev Chatterjee
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