Forbes India rich list: Mukesh Ambani defies economic slowdown, adds USD 15.3 billion to his net worth this year

Despite India's economic hiccups, tycoons on the 2017 Forbes India rich list saw their wealth soar with their combined fortunes rising 26 per cent to USD 479 billion.

Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani on Thursday emerged as the richest Indian for the 10th year in a row on Forbes list as his net worth has shot up to a staggering USD 38 billion (nearly Rs 2.5 lakh crore). Despite India's economic hiccups, tycoons on the 2017 Forbes India rich list saw their wealth soar with their combined fortunes rising 26 per cent to USD 479 billion (over Rs 31 lakh crore), the magazine said.

Wipro's Azim Premji was a distant second with a net worth of USD 19 billion, climbing two rungs since last year. Sun Pharma's Dilip Shanghvi slipped from the second place to the ninth (USD 12.1 billion) on Forbes annual 'India Rich List 2017'.

Forbes said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's economic experiments barely affected India's billionaires while none gained more than oil-and-gas tycoon Mukesh Ambani, who added a whopping USD 15.3 billion (67 per cent) to his wealth over last year to storm into the ranks of Asia's top five richest.

Mukesh's younger brother Anil dropped to the 45th place with his net worth valued at USD 3.15 billion this year from the 32nd spot in 2016 (USD 3.4 billion) and 29th a year before that. Patanjali Ayurved's Acharya Balkrishna, a close associate of yoga guru Ramdev, made a big jump from 48th place last year to 19th with a net worth of USD 6.55 billion (about Rs 43,000 crore).

India's fast-growing economy faltered in the April-June quarter as growth slowed to a three-year low of 5.7 per cent, due to the shock demonetisation in November and uncertainties linked with the rollout of a nation-wide Goods and Services Tax. Despite this, the stock market scaled new heights and boosted the fortunes of the nation's 100 richest, the magazine said.

In the case of Ambani, improved refining margins and his telecom unit Reliance Jio's thundering success in notching up 130 million subscribers since its 2016 launch pushed up shares of Reliance Industries. The Hinduja brothers are at the third position with USD 18.4 billion while Lakshmi Mittal is now ranked fourth (USD 16.5 billion) and Pallonji Mistry fifth (USD 16 billion).

Forbes said the list was compiled using shareholding and financial information secured from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and regulatory agencies. The ranking lists family fortunes, including those shared among extended families such as the Godrej and Bajaj families. Public fortunes were calculated based on stock prices and exchange rates as of September 15. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded. More than four-fifths of those who kept their spot on the list from last year saw their wealth rise, with 27 of them adding USD 1 billion or more to their net worth.

Among the newcomers on the list, the richest is biscuits-and-airline tycoon Nusli Wadia at the 25th place with a net worth of USD 5.6 billion. The others include self-made banker Rana Kapoor, cofounder of Yes Bank at the 100th rank (USD 1.46 bn), Vijay Shekhar Sharma, whose mobile wallet Paytm is backed by China's Alibaba and Japan's Softbank at the 99 (1.47 bn) and Dinesh Nandwana (88, USD 1.72 billion) of e-governance services firm Vakrangee. Veteran investor Radhakishan Damani returned to the list at 12th place with a net worth of USD 9.3 billion.