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The Bollygarchs: Meet the 15 richest people in India

India's mega-wealthy have become their own distinct class of international elites.

Bollygarchs india billionairesEnlarge
Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, is one of India's 'Bollygarchs', a new class of international elites. (Manpreet Romana/AFP/Getty Images)

In the past few years a new word has appeared in India to describe the new mega-rich — "Bollygarchs".

These Indian business-owners have become a new, distinct class of the international elite. But can they keep hold of their wealth?

The Indian stock market tanked in 2011, dropping 40% amidst poor performances by the manufacturing and farming sectors. The booming Indian economic growth slowed, fourth quarter figures dropping to their lowest numbers in nine years (5.3%), and 2012 isn't looking much better either.

As if that weren't bad enough, India's mega-rich have found themselves ensnarled in scandals, two of last years billionaires even finding themselves behind bars on charges connected to the 2G spectrum scandal.  

We've taken a look at the 15 richest Indians here, and had a look at their chances for the future.

NOTE: All figures are accurate as of March 2012, sourced from Forbes. The previous years reported worth are from Forbes' March 2011 list

#15 Anil Agarwal

Estimated Net Worth: $3.4 billion ($6.4 billion in 2011)

Residence: London, UK

Source of Wealth: Founder of Vedanta Resources, a global metal and mining company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

A good year? Since last year, Agarwal's wealth has dropped substantially in line with the Indian stock market. Shares of Vedanta have lost more than half of their value since July 1st, 2011, dropping from 2,107 to lower than 900 per share.

Source: Forbes

#14 Micky Jagtiani

Estimated Net Worth: $3.8 billion ($3 billion in 2011)

Residence: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Source of Wealth: Owner and founder of Landmark Group, one of the largest retail companies in India and the Middle East with 1,088 outlets worldwide.

A good year? Bucking the trend of many of the others on this list, Jagtiani's wealth increased from last year as Landmark's revenue continued its steady rise

Source: Forbes

#13 Uday Kotak

Estimated Net Worth: $4.1 billion ($3.2 billion in 2011)

Residence: Mumbai, India

Source of Wealth: Kotak holds the title as India's first billionaire banker, starting out with a small firm in 1985 to create Kotak Mahindra Bank, with 335 branches and 2.7 million customers.

A good year? Kotak owns 46 percent of the financial service firm, whose net income, dividends, and earnings per share continue to grow.

Source: Forbes

#12 Shiv Nadar

Estimated Net Worth: $5 billion ($5.6 billion in 2011)

Residence: New Delhi, India

Source of Wealth: Cofounder of HCL Group and majority shareholder of HCL Technologies, a global technology and IT enterprise.

A good year? Nadar's wealth fell off a bit from last year, mostly due to a moderate drop in the shares of HCL Technologies (they have rebounded quite a bit since shares bottomed out late last summer). 

Source: Forbes

#11 Gautam Adani

Estimated Net Worth: $5.4 billion ($10 billion in 2011)

Residence: Ahmedabad, India

Source of Wealth: Founder of Adani Enterprises, a conglomerate company with dealings in commodities trading, port operations, coal mining, power generation, and the distribution of natural gas.

A good year? Adani has lost nearly $5 billion since last year, his bidding projects on several ports being rejected by the government as well as allegations of illegal iron ore mining hurting his companies image and its shares.     

Source: Forbes

#10 Kushal Pal Singh

Estimated Net Worth: $6.4 billion ($7.3 billion in 2011, $30 billion in 2008)

Residence: New Delhi, India

Source of Wealth: Chairman of DLF Limited, the largest commercial real estate developer in India.

A good year? Once worth $30 billion when DLF was first publically listed (the largest IPO in India's history), Singh has seen his fortune steadily decline as shares of DLF rise and fall in line with the unpredictable real estate market.   

Source: Forbes

#9 Shashi & Ravi Ruia

Estimated Net Worth: $7 billion  ($15.8 billion in 2011)

Residence: Mumbai, India

Source of Wealth: Founders of Essar Group, a multinational conglomerate with interests in steel, shipping, power, oil, telecom, and construction.

A good year? Their wealth has dropped nearly $9 billion since last year after criminal conspiracy charges were brought against them, forcing Ravi to step down as chairman of Essar Energy. Shares of the Essar Energy plunged 75 percent in the past year.   

Source: Forbes

#8 Dilip Shanghvi

Estimated Net Worth: $7.4 billion ($6.1 billion)

Residence: Mumbai, India

Source of Wealth: Founder and chairman of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, an international pharmaceutical company which primarily deals in India and the United States.

A good year? A manufacturing plant recently reopened in the United States and a deal with Merck & Co. to make branded generics for emerging markets has helped Shanghvi's wealth continue to accumulate.

Source: Forbes

#7 Anil Ambani

Estimated Net Worth: $7.8 billion ($8.8 billion in 2011, $42 billion in 2008)

Residence: Mumbai, India

Source of Wealth: Heir to Dhirubhai Ambani's fortune and chairman of Reliance Group, a conglomerate dealing in communications, financial services, infrastructure, entertainment, and power generation, transmission, and distribution.

A good year? Since 2008, when Ambani was one of the richest men in the world, he has been involved in the 2G spectrum scandal and shares of his communications and power companies have crumbled.

Source: Forbes

#6 Kumar Birla

Estimated Net Worth: $8 billion  ($9.2 billion in 2011)

Residence: Mumbai, India

Source of Wealth: Chairman of Aditya Birla Group, a conglomerate producing aluminum (#1 producer in Asia), copper, carbon black, cement, and fertilizer, among other things.

A good year? While his net worth has fallen slightly, Birla has been a stalwart on the "Richest of India" list, dating back to 1995 when he took over the company after the sudden passing of his father.

Source: Forbes

#5 Sunil Mittal & family

Estimated Net Worth: $8.1 billion  ($8.3 billion in 2011)

Residence: New Delhi, India

Source of Wealth: Chairman and CEO of Bharti Airtel, the fifth largest telecom operator in the world.

A good year? Mittal is another regular on the list, hovering near or at $8 billion for four years. Mittal was one of the few telecom giants who wasn't caught up in the 2G spectrum scandal. 

Source: Forbes

#4 Savitri Jindal & family

Estimated Net Worth: $10.9 billion  ($13.2 billion in 2011)

Residence: Hisar, India

Source of Wealth: Family owned Jindal Group, a $15 billion conglomerate with interests in mining and a leading producer and manufacturer of steel products.

A good year? The Jindal family lost nearly one-fifth of its wealth since last year after its steel company, JSW Steel, closed a plant due to a government ban on iron ore mining in the area.  

Source: Forbes

#3 Azim Premji

Estimated Net Worth: $15.9 billion  ($13 billion in 2011)

Residence: Bangalore, India

Source of Wealth: Chairman of Wipro (Western India Products Limited), the second largest IT services and  consulting company in India.

A good year? Most of Premji's wealth is in his majority stake in Wipro, whose stocks remained consistent throughout the past year.

Source: Forbes

#2 Lakshmi Mittal

Estimated Net Worth: $20.7 billion  ($31.1 billion in 2011)

Residence: London, UK

Source of Wealth: Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, the largest steel and mining company in the world.

A good year? Mittal lost more money than anybody in the world last year ($10.4 billion), as shares of his company free fell due to shrinking demand and increasing costs. 

Source: Forbes

#1 Mukesh Ambani

Estimated Net Worth: $22.3 billion  ($27 billion in 2011)

Residence: Mumbai, India

Source of Wealth: Heir to Dhirubhai Ambani's fortune, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, and the brother of Anil Ambani (see #7).

A good year? Reliance Industries, a petrochemical, oil, and gas conglomerate, saw shares drop significantly in last year's fourth quarter as Reliance had a run-in with India's oil ministry over declining output from India's largest offshore gas field, KG-D6.

Source: Forbes

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