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India’s Billionaire Club Shrinks….

2022 saw many lose the ‘billionaire’ tag, though some of the richest Indian promoters have become even richer.

The number of dollar-billionaire promoters in India (those with a net worth of $1 billion, or around Rs 8,241 crore/Rs 82.41 billion) has fallen to 120 from an all-time high of 142 at the end of 2021.

Also, the billionaire promoters’ combined wealth is down 8.8 per cent to around $685 billion (Rs 56.5 trillion) from $751.6 billion (Rs 56.62 trillion) a year ago.

The fall in rupee terms is not significant due to its depreciation versus the US dollar.

A stark outperformer in the rich list is Gautam Adani, who has toppled Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, to become India’s richest person in 2022.

Adani’s net worth stands at $135.7 billion, up 69.6 per cent from $80 billion at the end of 2021.

According to the Bloomberg data, Adani is the richest person in Asia and third-richest in the world.

In comparison, Ambani, who topped the list last year, has seen a 2.5 per cent decline in his family’s net worth to $101.75 billion from $104.4 billion a year ago.

The net worth of individuals represents the value of shares owned by family members and family-owned companies/trusts as on December 23, 2022.

The market value is net of the cross-holdings of group companies.

The divergent trends come in a year when the equity markets, in India and globally, have seen sharp swings due to worries over the Russia-Ukraine war, high inflation, volatility in commodity prices, and rising interest rates in leading economies, including India.

The impact is also visible in the list of India’s top 10 billionaires, where only three — Adani, Dilip Shanghvi of Sun Pharma and Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel — have seen gains in their net worth.

Mittal’s gains are driven by the rise of Bharti Airtel, which benefited from tariff hikes taken by mobile services operators, clarity over regulatory issues, and a stable business environment.

Gains for Shanghvi are led by an improved performance of Sun Pharma, which benefited from a better show in its specialty business in North America and growth in its India formulations business.

Radhakishan Damani of Avenue Supermarts (DMart) is India’s third-richest promoter with a net worth of $23.8 billion, down 21 per cent in the last one year.

Damani’s net worth had got a boost post-pandemic when the share price of DMart jumped about 2.5x between late March 2020 and end-December 2021.

The stock has since declined as investors betted on companies that benefited from the opening up of Indian and global economies.

The operational weakness in DMart’s business also led to the decline in its share price.

Other promoters in the top 10 list include Shiv Nadar of HCL Technologies; Ashwin Dani, Amrita Vakil and Manish Choksi of Asian Paints; Azim Premji of Wipro; Sanjiv and Rajiv Bajaj of Bajaj Group; and Uday Kotak of Kotak Mahindra Bank.

The continued rise of Adani in 2022 was powered by a strong rally in the stocks of most of his group companies. His net worth has also been boosted by the acquisition of Ambuja Cements and ACC in May this year, and thereafter New Delhi Television (NDTV).

These three have added nearly $8.4 billion, or Rs 68,800 crore, to his net worth in CY22.

The year started with the initial public offer of Adani Wilmar in January. This firm has added nearly Rs 30,000 crore/Rs 30 billion ($3.5 bn) to Adani’s net worth.

So roughly, $12 billion, or a fifth of the increase of $55 billion in Adani’s net worth in 2022, has come from acquisitions and new listing.

With these gains in 2022, Adani’s net worth is up 581 per cent in the last three years from $19.9 billion at the end of December 2019.

In the same period, the combined wealth of all billionaires has risen by 93 per cent from $355 billion to around $685 billion now.

As a result, Adani now accounts for a fifth of the combined net worth of all billionaires, as against just 5.6 per cent in December 2019.

The spectacular rise of Adani to the top in 2022, however, is an exception, as the billionaire club has shrunk and a majority of the richest promoters have seen a decline in their net worth due to a poor show in the equity markets and a slowdown in IPOs after a big boom in 2021.

In all, 116 promoters with a net worth of more than $1 billion at the end of December 2021 have seen a decline in their wealth in 2022.

The benchmark Sensex is up 2.7 per cent in CY2022 (till December 23) compared to the end of December 2021, while the combined market capitalisation of all BSE-listed companies is up 2.3 per cent to Rs 272 trillion in this period, as against Rs 266 trillion on December 31, 2021.

Among the many exits from the billionaire’s club in 2022 are D Uday Kumar Reddy of Tanla Solutions (net worth down 66 per cent), Sushil Kanubhai Shah of Metropolis Healthcare (down 65.7 per cent), Vijay Shekhar Sharma of One97 Communications (down 66 per cent), and C K Birla (down 43.4 per cent).

The year also saw the entry of Nirmal Jain and Venkataraman Rajamani of IIFL Finance and Rajesh Sharma of Capri Global Capital into the billionaire’s club.

The two IIFL group promoters’ now have a combined net worth of $1.06 billion, up 24.8 per cent from $0.85 billion at the end of December 2021. Rajesh Sharma’s net worth is up 32.2 per cent to $1.2 billion from $0.91 billion a year ago.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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