November 2023 marked a soaring triumph for India’s wealthiest billionaires, with their fortunes escalating alongside the broader stock market’s robust showing. The Nifty 50 not only scaled new peaks but also registered its most impressive week in five months. This uptick, steered by solid macroeconomic indicators and a steady influx of foreign funds, propelled the Sensex to its highest level in 11 weeks, clocking its fifth straight week of gains as the month wrapped up.
As December dawns, the market’s bullish run shows no signs of slowing down, buoyed by GDP figures that exceeded expectations. The Indian stock market, riding on this wave of optimism, is poised for continued growth, echoing the broader economic upswing.
The Indian Billionaires
In November 2023, India’s markets showcased remarkable growth and dynamism. Achieving record highs, the markets were buoyed by strong corporate earnings, optimistic economic forecasts, and political stability following the BJP’s electoral success.
Overall, the month was marked by vibrant trading activity and a bullish outlook in the Indian stock market and with it brought more wealth for India’s richest.
Mukesh Ambani saw his wealth increase in billions after media reports noted that Reliance Industries, India’s market heavyweight, is poised for a significant shift in 2024. As it nears the end of its hefty 5G investment cycle, the company is strategizing a debt reduction plan. This move aims to significantly lower its net debt.
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Despite a slight increase in the debt-equity ratio, RIL’s robust operating cash flows are steering it towards becoming net-debt free — and all the positivity that comes with it is only adding to Ambani’s fortunes.
The month also saw Gautam Adani reclaim his position among the world’s top 20 richest as Adani Group stocks surged 5-20% after a Supreme Court verdict. This rally boosted the group’s market capitalization by over ₹1 trillion, surpassing ₹11 trillion on the whole.
The jump, the largest since April 11, was fueled by positive investor sentiment and expectations of clear growth paths for the conglomerate. Despite this surge, some Adani Group stocks closed in the red later in the week. Adani’s resurgence in wealth rankings follows a dip below the top 25 after the Hindenburg report, contrasting with his early 2023 status as the world’s third richest.
Elsewhere, Jindal Group’s chairperson and the sole woman amongst India’s top ten richest individuals, Savitri Jindal made the biggest leap, jumping from 8th place in the list by early November to 5th place by the beginning of December.
Meanwhile, Cyrus Poonawalla, the founder of the Serum Institute of India who’d been a regular feature among India’s richest individuals this year, slipped out of the top 10 to make way for the Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, Kumar Mangalam Birla.
Here is the ranking of the 10 richest persons in India in 2023 as per Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index:
1. Mukesh Ambani
Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Limited, holds the title of India’s richest person. With a net worth of $90.4 billion or approximately ₹7.53 lakh crore, Ambani stands twelfth on the global billionaire list.
Under his leadership, RIL has grown into one of India’s leading firms with a global footprint. In recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments, he received the prestigious Padma Vibhushan award in 2016.
Ambani’s conglomerate spans a broad spectrum, including petrochemicals, refining, oil and gas exploration, and telecommunications. Since taking the reins in 2004 following his father Dhirubhai Ambani’s passing, he has propelled RIL to new heights. He orchestrated the launch of Reliance Jio, a telecom venture that transformed the Indian telecom landscape with its affordable data plans and high-speed internet services.
In addition to his business prowess, Ambani is renowned for his philanthropic activities. His Reliance Foundation focuses on enhancing healthcare, education, and rural development across India.
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2. Gautam Adani
Adani, who earlier slipped out of the elite club of the world's top 10 richest people, is now at 13th on the global list — gaining a host of places through November 2023 and consolidating his place as the second richest man in India.
Adani has a net worth of $70.2 billion (roughly ₹5.85 lakh crore) after losing a massive $50.3 billion over the past year. Adani's conglomerate has widespread interest across sectors like power generation and transmission, real estate, commodities and infrastructure.
Several Adani Group companies are publicly listed, including Adani Enterprises, Adani Green Energy, Adani Power, Adani Wilmar, Adani Transmission, Adani Ports & SEZ, Ambuja Cements and ACC. Several of these stocks have turned multi-baggers — that is, they have fetched returns in multiples for the investors.
Adani continues to tread the recovery path after a majority of this wealth was eroded in the aftermath of prominent U.S. short-seller Hindenburg Research publishing a report that alleged Adani Group engages in widespread fraud and financial malpractices. However, the conglomerates’ listed entities have held up well in the market after fresh allegations suggested that business partners of the family used ‘opaque’ funds to invest in stocks.
At the end of 2022, Adani held the title of India’s wealthiest individual. Adani’s conglomerate reached its pinnacle, securing its position as the second-largest Indian conglomerate, surpassed only by Reliance Industries.
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3. Shapoor Mistry
Shapoor Mistry. Photo: Courtesy of Shapoorji Pallonji Group
The founder of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, with a net worth of $32.7 billion (roughly ₹2.72 lakh crore. The third wealthiest person in India, Mistry also holds the forty-first position among the world’s richest individuals and receives recognition for his philanthropic endeavours alongside his business ventures.
4. Shiv Nadar
Shiv Nadar. Photo: Courtesy of Shiv Nadar Foundation
Shiv Nadar, HCL Technologies co-founder, holds the fourth position among India’s richest billionaires, with an estimated wealth of $31.1 billion (roughly ₹2.59 lakh crore). HCL is a prominent provider of software services in India, boasting a substantial revenue of $12.7 billion. Under Nadar’s guidance, HCL has emerged as one of the country’s largest IT services companies, operating in over 45 countries.
Nadar also ranks forty-fifth on the global billionaire’s list. Nadar’s contributions to the IT industry and philanthropic endeavours have earned him numerous awards and accolades.
5. Savitri Jindal
Savitri Jindal, India’s wealthiest female, is the only businesswoman in the country’s top 10 richest people. As the Jindal Group’s chairperson, she holds a net worth of $23.9 billion (roughly ₹1.99 lakh crore).
The conglomerate has not only flourished as one of India’s major steel producers under her astute leadership but also successfully expanded its operations into diverse sectors. These include power generation, infrastructure, cement, and textiles.
6. Azim Premji
Azim Premji. Photo: Courtesy of World Economic Forum/Flickr
Former chairman of Wipro Limited and a philanthropist, Azim Premji is the fifth richest Indian, with a $23.4 billion (₹1.95 lakh crore) in net wealth. In 2019, Premji dropped from the 2nd position in the Forbes India Rich list to the 17th position after he gave away a huge amount to charity. Under his leadership, Wipro expanded from the cooking oil industry to the IT industry, and today it is a leading software services company with a presence in over 50 countries.
7. Dilip Shanghvi
Dilip Shanghvi. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia
Dilip Shanghvi is an Indian billionaire businessman and the founder of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, one of India’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Shanghvi's net worth stands at $20.3 billion (roughly ₹1.69 lakh crore), making him the seventh richest person in the country. Shanghvi's Sun Pharmaceutical Industries is among the nation's leaders in pharmaceutical supplies, with an annual revenue of $5.34 billion.
8. Radhakishan Damani
Avenue Supermarts Limited's founder Radhakishan Damani's $18.9 billion (roughly ₹1.57 lakh crore) worth places him in eighth place on this list. Damani became the retail king of India after his supermarket chain completed ₹1,870 crore ($229 million) IPO in March 2017.
The investor holds stakes in companies like VST Industries, India Cements, TV Today Network and Health and Glow. The transaction, worth around ₹700-750 crore, involved acquiring the business from the family offices of Rajan Raheja and Hemendra Kothari.
9. Lakshmi Mittal
Lakshmi Mittal. Photo: Courtesy of Arcelor Mittal Group
Ranked as India’s ninth richest person, ArcelorMittal’s Chairman Lakshmi Mittal boasts a net worth of $18.8 billion (roughly ₹1.56 lakh crore). His company stands as the world’s largest steel and mining producer by output, with revenues of $53.3 billion.
Under Mittal’s leadership, ArcelorMittal has become a global leader in the steel industry, with operations in more than 60 countries.
10. Kumar Mangalam Birla
Kumar Mangalam Birla. Photo: Flickr/ Protagonist Design
Kumar Mangalam Birla, who’s Aditya Birla Group’s chairman, has a net worth of $17.2 billion (roughly ₹1.43 lakh crore). His philanthropic contributions, including a ₹242 crore donation with his family, have made him one of India’s most generous billionaires.
Birla took the reins of the conglomerate at 28, expanding into diverse sectors including textiles, cement, chemicals, aluminium, and telecommunications. His notable contribution to the Indian telecom sector includes establishing Idea Cellular.
Kumar Mangalam Birla, also serves as an additional director of Vodafone Idea and has propelled the group’s international expansion, achieving over $60 billion in sales, with a substantial part from global operations. Birla is also dedicated to societal improvement, particularly in rural development.
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