Mukesh Ambani has ousted L.N. Mittal as richest Indian: Forbes

November 13th, 2008 - 3:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) Plunging stock and property values because of the global financial crisis has pushed steel tycoon Lakshmi Nivas Mittal to second place behind Mukesh Ambani of petroleum to textiles major Reliance Industries in the list of 40 richest Indians, Forbes Asia said Thursday.London-based, but India-born Mittal, 58, head of the world’s largest steelmaker Arcelor Mittal was the topper of last year’s Forbes Asia list of 40 wealthiest Indians. But current asset values have whittled down his net worth by a whopping $30.5 billion to push him down to second place.

Mukesh Ambani, 51, just about pipped Mittal to first rank for the first time despite losing $28.2 billion during the past year. His estranged brother Anil Ambani took the third spot despite being the biggest dollar-loser with his net worth eroded $32.5 billion, the magazine said.

“These are painful times for India’s richest as the ongoing global turmoil drastically reshapes their fortunes,” the magazine said.

“The country’s once soaring stock market fell 48 percent in the 12 months, the rupee depreciated 24 percent against the dollar and gross domestic product growth is expected to slow down to 7.5 percent, partly owing to double-digit inflation,” it added.

“All of this conspired to knock 60 percent off the combined fortunes of the nation’s 40 wealthiest. Their total net worth fell $212 billion, to $139 billion, down from $351 billion a year ago.”

Of the 40 in last year’s list, only 34 have made it this year and six have been replaced. Among the six who have been pushed out of the list altogether are liquor and airlines tycoon Vijay Mallya and Gautam Thapar, head of India’s largest paper maker Ballarpur Industries.

The collective losses of these six were $7.9 billion.

Among the newcomers to the list are Micky Jagtiani, head of a retail empire in the Middle East, and Hemant Shah, son of a Bollywood film producer who made his fortune in construction.

Returning to the list after a one-year absence are Yusuf Hamied, head of generics producer Cipla, and Brijmohan Lall Munjal, patriarch of Hero Group, which makes motorcycles and bicycles.

While some have lost almost all their wealth, the only exception were brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Singh who actually increased their wealth by selling off their 34-percent stake in India’s largest drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories to Daiichi Sankyo at a hefty premium to the stock’s current price.

Tulsi Tanti, head of wind power major Suzlon, and his brothers lost 91 percent of their wealth. Real estate tycoon K.P. Singh of DLF lost $27.2 billion since the Forbes Asia list was published last year but an amazing $39 billion since his stock peaked in Jan this year.

In fact, real estate fortunes saw the most erosion. Unitech’s Ramesh Chandra’s net worth eroded 91 percent to $1 billion even as his company lost half its market capitalization in just one day in Oct.

Only those with pharmaceuticals fortunes managed to beat the market, but the falling rupee made sure that they too ended up with losses. India’s most valuable drug maker Sun Pharma’s Dilip Sanghvi lost $800 million although his net worth in rupees actually increased.

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