Business Insider Edition

More than half of India's 100 richest people lost money in the past year, but the country's richest man got R60 billion richer.

Katie Warren , Business Insider US
 Oct 19, 2019, 12:26 PM
Jio, the telecom company that belongs to India's richest man, has quickly become one of the country's biggest mobile carriers.
Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Forbes released its 2019 ranking of India's 100 Richest People.
  • More than half of the country's richest people lost money in 2019 as economic growth slowed.
  • India's richest man, on the other hand, Mukesh Ambani, added $4.1 billion (R60 billion) to his fortune.
  • The 62-year-old chairman of oil-gas-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries is worth an estimated $52.7 billion (R781 billion).
  • The automobile and consumer goods industries suffered, but Ambani's wealth has grown this past year largely thanks to his three-year-old telecom company, Jio, which now has 340 million subscribers, according to Forbes.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

India's economic growth has slowed, and the country's richest people haven't been spared the effects.

Forbes released its 2019 ranking of India's 100 Richest People, and it showed that more than half of India's richest people lost money in 2019.

"Under the Narendra Modi-led government, which returned to power for a second term with a thumping majority in May, economic growth slowed to 5%, a six-year low," Naazneen Karmali wrote for Forbes.

According to Karmali, the automobile and consumer goods industries were hit particularly hard, with layoffs and production cuts. 14 of India's richest lost at least $1 billion (R14 billion), and 9 of last year's richest didn't make this year's list.

The country's richest man, however, got even richer despite the economic turmoil. Mukesh Ambani, who runs the oil-gas-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries, added $4.1 billion (R60 billion) to his net worth.

The 62-year-old is now worth an estimated $52.7 billion (R781 billion), making him the 15th-richest person in the world. Ambani has now been India's richest man for 12 years in a row.

The Ambani family is known for living in a lavish, 27-storey skyscraper in Mumbai that cost an estimated $1 billion (R14 billion) to build. The weddings of two of Ambani's children, in December 2018 and March 2019, were attended by the likes of Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Hillary Clinton, actress Priyanka Chopra, and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.

The next-richest Indian, Gautam Adani, is worth an estimated $15.7 billion (R232 billion). That may be a whopping $37 billion (R548 billion) less than Ambani, but Adani rose 8 spots in the past year to become the second-richest man in India. The infrastructure and coal mining billionaire got approval in 2019 to start work on a coal mine in Australia after waiting 9 years, according to Forbes. Adani also controls India's largest port, Mundra Port.

While most Indian billionaires - with exceptions such as Ambani and Adani - lost money in the past year, billionaires in France made more money than their counterparts anywhere else in the world, as Taylor Nicole Rogers reported for Business Insider.

The personal fortunes of French billionaires grew more than twice as fast as those of American and Chinese billionaires in the first half of 2019, Bloomberg's Alexander Sazonov reported in July, mainly thanks to China's growing desire for luxury goods.

Take Bernard Arnault, France's richest person and the third-richest in the world, who runs LVMH, the world's largest maker of luxury goods. Last week, Arnault made $5.1 billion (R75 billion) in less than 48 hours - and he's now made more money in 2019 than any other person listed in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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