MUMBAI: Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani has retained the top spot in Forbes' list of the richest Indians for the year 2019. This is the 12th time in a row that Ambani, with a net worth of USD 51.4 billion, has topped the list.
While stating that it was 'a challenging year' for the Indian economy, the prestigious American business magazine said, "He (Mukesh Ambani) added USD USD 4.1 billion to his net worth as Jio, the three-year-old telecom unit of his Reliance Industries, became one of India’s biggest mobile carriers with 340 million subscribers."
''It was a challenging year for the nation’s wealthiest. 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. As consumer demand slumped, sectors such as automobiles and consumer goods announced layoffs and production cuts. To boost sentiment, the government, in September, said it would reduce the corporate tax rate to 22% from 30%. Despite the turmoil, a few charged ahead. Mukesh Ambani remains the richest Indian for the 12th year in a row. He added USD 4.1 billion to his net worth as Jio, a three-year-old telecom unit of his Reliance Industries, became one of India’s biggest mobile carriers with 340 million subscribers,'' the magazine said.
Other who, according to Forbes, made significant gains were business tycoons Gautam Adani, Hinduja brothers, Pallonji Mistry, banker Uday Kotak.
According to Forbes, infrastructure tycoon Gautam Adani jumped eight spots to no 2 this year with a net worth of USD 15.7 billion on the back of permission he secured after a nine-year wait to start work on an Australian coal mine.
Adani has also ventured into a slew of new businesses from airports to data centers.
Ambani and Adani were followed by the Hinduja brothers with a net worth of USD 15.6 billion, Pallonji Mistry (USD 15 billion) and banker Uday Kotak (USD14.8 billion).
Six newcomers also made it to Forbes India Rich List 2019. They are the Singh family (no. 41, USD 3.18 billion), who inherited the fortune of pharma magnate Samprada Singh, founder of Alkem Laboratories, who died in July this year; Byju Raveendran (no 72, USD 1.91 billion), the 38-year-old founder of fast-rising edtech unicorn BYJU's; Mahendra Prasad (no. 81, USD 1.77 billion) of Aristo Pharmaceuticals; Manohar Lal and Madhusudan Agarwal (No. 86, USD 1.7 billion) of Delhi-headquartered Haldiram Snacks; Rajesh Mehra (no. 95, USD 1.5 billion), whose family owns the popular sanitary ware brand Jaquar, and Sandeep Engineer (no. 98, USD 1.45 billion) of Astral Poly Technik.
On the flip side, tycoons linked to autos and consumer goods suffered from weak consumer sentiment. Autoparts maker Vivek Chaand Sehgal’s net worth more than halved to $2.45 billion.
Naazneen Karmali, Asia Wealth Editor and India Editor of Forbes Asia, said, "While India's slowing economy took a toll on the combined wealth of the nation's 100 richest this year, there were some who defied the odds to charge ahead.. It won't be long before they bounce back."