New Delhi: Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani has emerged as the richest Indian, with his USD 27 billion fortune surpassing that of billionaire rivals LN Mittal and Azim Premji, according to Forbes India magazine.
As per the list of the 100 wealthiest Indians compiled by Forbes, the combined net worth of India's 100 richest people rose to USD 300 billion this year from USD 276 billion last year, driven by the country's booming economy and a rally in the stock market.
Ambani was followed in the list by steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, who retained his second position in the Forbes India Rich List with a net worth of USD 26.1 billion.
However, the wealth of both of these billionaires as calculated by Forbes is believed to be 15 per cent lower than their fortunes in the previous year.
Mukesh's younger sibling Anil Ambani lost the third spot on the list to IT major Wipro Chairman Azim Premji and fell to sixth rank in the latest list.
Anil Ambani's net worth of USD 13.3 billion is less than half that of his elder brother, Mukesh.
Writing about Mukesh Ambani, the magazine said, "In a surprising move, he ended a long-running feud with younger sibling Anil in May and scrapped their non-compete pact. Jumped into telecom, paying USD 1 billion for wireless broadband firm Infotel. His Reliance Industries, India's most valuable company, is investing in shale gas assets."
Premji's wealth has increased to USD 17.6 billion from USD 14.9 billion last year, taking him to the third spot from fourth place last year.
Fourth on the list was Essar Energy brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia, with a net worth of USD 15 billion, bolstered by the company's IPO in London, which raised USD 1.85 billion.
According to the Forbes India Rich List, there are 69 billionaires this year, compared to 52 last year. As many as five women have made it to the Forbes India Rich List this year, led by O P Jindal Group Chairperson Savitri Jindal.
Apart from Jindal, Bennett, Coleman & Co Chairperson Indu Jain, Anu Aga of Thermax group, Biocon's Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Shobhana Bhartia of Hindustan Times are the other women that found a place in the list.
Savitri Jindal, with a net worth of USD 14.4 billion, has been ranked at fifth place on the list, ahead of Anil Ambani at sixth rank.
Gautum Adani (USD 10.7 billion), DLF's Kushal Pal Singh (USD 9.2 billion), Bharti Airtel's Sunil Mittal (USD 8.6 billion), K M Birla (USD 8.5 billion) have been ranked at 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th ranks, respectively.
The biggest gainer in percentage terms was media baron Kalanithi Maran, who made a splash with his purchase of a big stake in low-cost airline SpiceJet.
Maran's net worth rose by 74 per cent in a year to USD 2.9 billion.
This year's list signals a second wave of Indian capitalists amassing fantastic fortunes after an initial slew earlier in the decade.
However, some fortunes took a hit, with property baron K P Singh losing nearly one-third of his wealth despite a real estate rebound.
Also poorer was Brijmohan Lall Munjal, following a family split. Wind energy entrepreneur Tulsi Tanti, whose Suzlon Energy got weighed down by debt, fell from 33rd position last year to 69th this year, with a net worth of USD 1 billion.
The people featuring on the list have a minimum fortune of USD 500 million, while their net worth is a snapshot of their wealth based on share prices and exchange rates on September 9, 2010.
First Published: Friday, October 01, 2010, 00:13