Mukesh Ambani, Lakshmi Mittal among world’s top ten rich

March 12th, 2009 - 12:59 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 12 (IANS) Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani has overtaken the London-based steel tycoon Lakshmi N. Mittal to emerge as Asia’s richest person, as per the Forbes’ list of world billionaires for 2009.

But Mukesh’s younger and estranged brother Anil Ambani, who was the biggest gainer last year, dropped out of the top 10 list, with his stake in the telecom-to-energy empire losing over $31.9 billion over the past 12 months. The other major loser was realty baron Kushal Pal Singh, who runs the New Delhi-based DLF.

Mukesh Ambani, whose group has interests in refining, petrochemicals and retail among other areas, and Mittal, the world’s top steel maker, were ranked at 7th and 8th spot in the world respectively.

As per Forbes, four Indians were among the world’s top 10 richest in 2008 with combined worth of $160 billion. Today, that same foursome is worth just $54 billion.

Last year, India’s wealthiest citizens were flying high, buoyed by a soaring stock market and a booming economy. But only 24 of last year’s 53 billionaires made the cut this year, and everyone but brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, who sold their generic drug firm Ranbaxy at its peak, lost money.

As a result, mainland China for the first time has more billionaires than India. Still, the Indian survivors, with a combined net worth of $107 billion, are a lot richer than their Chinese counterparts, who are worth $44 billion.

K.P. Singh, briefly the world’s richest real estate baron, lost $25 billion and is now ranked No. 98, worth $5 billion.

Fellow property developer Ramesh Chandra’s Unitech lost half its market capitalisation in one day last October. Now he is poorer by an estimated $9 billion from the $9.6 billion he was worth in 2008. Chandra was the highest-ranked billionaire from 2008 to drop off the list.

The 28 other drop-offs include a number of well-known businesspeople.

Among the notables is flamboyant liquor and airlines tycoon Vijay Mallya, whose UB Group acquired Scottish distiller Whyte and Mackay for $1.2 billion in May 2007 to become the world’s second-largest spirits group.

Mallya’s various liquor companies lost between half and 90 percent of their values.

Also out of the billionaires’ club are Jignesh Shah, whose listed financial software firm Financial Technologies dropped by 75 percent, and Sameer Gehlaut, who was India’s youngest billionaire briefly before the stock price of his Indiabulls Financial Services and Indiabulls Real Estate both tanked 80 percent in the bear market.

India’s wind-power man, Tulsi Tanti, and his brothers lost an estimated 90 percent of their combined fortunes amid reports of poor quality of Suzlon’s wind turbine blades.

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