Entrepreneur Cyrus Poonawalla and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani added the most to their wealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Poonawalla is the 57th richest man in the world, Ambani has emerged as the eighth richest person in the world, according to a report by Hurun Research. Poonawalla's fortune rose on account of strong business potential of his company, Serum Institute of India.
Poonawalla ascended 57 places to 86th position in the list of world's richest people as of May 31 as his net worth surged 25% during the four months of COVID-19 pandemic. Pune-based Serum Institute of India is an unlisted company and is already the biggest vaccine maker in the world.
The rise in Poonawalla's net worth has been helped by vaccine distribution and manufacturing potential of his business, the report said.
Recently, Serum Institute struck an agreement with AstraZeneca to manufacture 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University.
Meanwhile, richest Indian Mukesh Ambani continues to hold the number one ranking as the wealthiest Indian. After sharp losses in the first two months of the market rout, the next two months saw an $18 billion surge in his fortune on the back of over Rs 1.69 lakh crore worth of deals struck by Reliance Industries in selling stakes in its telecom arm, the report highlighted.
However, despite the late surge, Ambani's wealth was down 1 per cent compared to pre-COVID levels, it said.
Ambani saw a "V-shaped recovery" in his wealth, wherein his net worth plummeted during the first two months and made up nearly all the losses in the next two months, the report stated.
Despite his net worth being marginally lower, Ambani climbed one place to become the eighth richest person in the world as of May 2020.
Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos continues to be at the top of the list of the world's richest individuals with a 14 per cent gain in his fortune to $160 billion in four months to May. He is followed by Bill Gates at $100 billion (down 6 per cent), Bernard Arnault at $89 billion (down 17 per cent), Warren Buffet at $84 billion (down 18 per cent), Mark Zuckerberg at $84 billion (unchanged), Steve Ballmer at $67 billion (up 1 per cent) and Amancio Ortega at $67 billion (down 17 per cent), according to the report.
Ambani's wealth erosion is the smallest compared to other Indian billionaires on the top-100 list, such as HCL's Shiv Nadar (16 per cent decline to $16 billion) and Gautam Adani and his family (18 per cent decline to $14 billion), it said.
Apart from Ambani, Poonawalla, Adani and Nadar, there are no Indians on the top-100 list.
From a sectoral perspective, the biggest winners from the coronavirus pandemic seem to be online retailers, pharma, home improvement retailers, and also chocolate, soya sauce, and pork producers, the report pointed out.
Both the US and China have gained marginally when one looks at the top-100 wealth owners, though the Asian country's growth has been a bit stronger between the two, the statement said.
The Indian stock market dropped 20 per cent during the pandemic and has made some gains lately, while the rupee has depreciated 5.6 per cent, Hurun's report added.