'Vaccine king' Cyrus Poonawalla's wealth grew the fastest, at $15 billion, among Indian billionaires and fifth fastest in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the strong business potential of his company, Serum Institute of India, according to a report by Hurun Research.
Poonawalla has climbed 57 places to be the 86th richest person in the world as of May 31 on the back of a 25 per cent rise in his net worth during the four months of the pandemic, the report said.
The Pune-based entrepreneur's unlisted company is already the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world and the net worth has been helped by vaccine distribution and manufacturing potential of his business, it added.
Recently, Serum struck an agreement with AstraZeneca to manufacture 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University.
Richest Indian Mukesh Ambani continues to hold the numero uno ranking as the wealthiest Indian. After sharp losses in the first two months on market rout, the next two months saw a USD 18 billion surge in his fortune on the back of over ?1.69 lakh crore worth of deals struck by Reliance Industries in selling stakes in its telecom arm, it said.
However, despite the late surge, his wealth was down 1 per cent as compared to the pre-COVID levels, it said.
Ambani saw a "V-shaped recovery" in his wealth, wherein the networth plummeted during the first two months and made up nearly all the losses in the next two months, it said.
Despite the networth being marginally lower, Ambani climbed up one place to be the eighth richest person in the world as of May 2020, it said.
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 USD 160 billion in four months to May, and is followed by Bill Gates at USD 100 billion (down 6 per cent), Bernard Arnault at USD 89 billion (down 17 per cent), Warren Buffet at USD 84 billion (down 18 per cent), Mark Zuckerberg at USD 84 billion (unchanged), Steve Ballmer at USD 67 billion (up 1 per cent) and Amancio Ortega at USD 67 billion (down 17 per cent), it said.
Ambani's wealth erosion is the smallest as compared to other Indian billionaires in the top-100 list, like HCL's Shiv Nadar (16 per cent decline to USD 16 billion) and Gautam Adani and family (18 per cent decline to USD 14 billion), it said.
Apart from Ambani, Poonawalla, Adani and Nadar, there are no Indians in 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, it said.
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, it said.