Patanjali's Balkrishna debuts Forbes' richest 100-club, Mukesh tops list

| | Singapore/New Delhi

Though Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani retained its position as the richest Indian for the ninth consecutive year, Yoga guru Ramdev's close aide Patanjali Ayurved's Acharya Balkrishna made a debut entry into the Forbes' richest 100-club with its company's total networth value of $2.5 billion. Balkrishna is among the six newcomers on the list, while 13 other richest members persons have failed to make the cut this year. Those moving out of the list included e-commerce giant Flipkart's co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, according to Forbes Magazine which released its annual India rich list on Thursday.

In its list of the richest Indians, Ambani's name was on the top as the richest person for a ninth year in a row with a sharp increase in networth to $22.7 billion, while Sun Pharma's Dilip Shanghvi was ranked a distant second with a wealth of $16.9 billion. Also, the Hinduja Family moved up to the third position ($15.2 billion) on the list and Wipro's Azim Premji slipped one place to fourth with a networth of $15 billion.

As far as Balkrishna is concerned, he has made a surprise entry at the 48th position with a networth of $2.5 billion on the list compiled by the American business magazine. "The childhood friend of politically well-connected yoga guru Baba Ramdev, makes debut thanks to his 97 per cent holding in fast-growing consumer goods outfit Patanjali Ayurved, which they co-founded in 2006," Forbes said.

"With revenue of $780 million, Patanjali sells everything from herbal toothpastes and cosmetics to noodles and jams. Though Ramdev holds no shares in Patanjali, he is the company's de facto brand ambassador, while Balkrishna runs operations," it added.

In the list of top 10 Indians, construction magnate Pallonji Mistry was ranked 6th ($13.9 billion) and was followed by NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal ($12.5 billion), Godrej family ($12.4 billion), HCL's Shiv Nadar ($11.4 billion), Kumar Mangalam Birla ($8.8 billion) and Cyrus Poonawalla ($8.6 billion). Banker Uday Kotak was ranked 11th ($8.3 billion), Sunil Mittal was 12th ($6.6 billion), while Gujarati business tycoon Gautam Adani is 13th ($6.3 billion).  Others in the top-20 included Anand Burman ($5.85 billion), Shashi and Ravi Ruia ($5.8 billion), Bajaj Family ($5.7 billion), Subhash Chandra ($5.6 billion), Savitri Jindal ($5.3 billion) and Desh Bandhu Gupta ($5.1 billion).

Forbes said the combined networth of India's 100 wealthiest is $381 billion (nearly Rs 25.5 lakh crore), a rise of 10 per cent from $345 billion in 2015. For instance, Mukesh Ambani's wealth rose in the past one year from $18.9 billion to $22.7 billion (over Rs 1.5 lakh crore) on 21 per cent surge in share price of Reliance Industries, the flagship company of his group, which recently launched 4G mobile services with much fanfare.

He was ranked 36th in the global rich list. Younger brother Anil Ambani was also ranked 32nd with a networth of $3.4 billion, down from 29th spot last year.

However, Shanghvi also retained his second position, though his wealth fell by $1.1 billion due to plunge in share price of his group firm Sun Pharma, the world's fifth largest generic drug maker. "Hinduja brothers rose to the third spot by displacing Premji and saw their worth rising to $15.2 billion, from $14.8 a year ago," it said.

"The four siblings - Srichand, Gopichand, Prakash, and Ashok - control multinational empire Hinduja Group, with businesses ranging from trucks and lubricants to banking and cable television. The group commissioned its much-delayed 1,040 mw thermal power unit in South India in July," it added.

"In a post-Brexit world, India appears a steady ship with an economy growing at 7 per cent-plus. The majority of India's 100 richest have notched up handsome gains as their companies have outperformed the stock market in the past year. As the domestic investment cycle starts kicking in, we can expect more gains and new names in the future," Forbes Asia's India Editor Naazneen Karmali said.

Forbes also said the fortunes of cement and paint tycoons in the country benefitted from the Government's infrastructure push and housing-for-all policy. Shree Cement's Benu Gopal Bangur moved up to the 14th place with a networth of $5.9 billion, while Asian Paints' Ashwin Dani saw his wealth rise to $3.3 billion to rank him 34th.

As many as 15 people, including these two, saw their wealth rise by more than $1 billion.  Also, it saw eight persons rejoining the ranks and these included biotech major Biocon's Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw at 65th place with $1.83 billion.                 Besides, there are six newcomers including serial entrepreneurs and brothers Bhavin and Divyank Turakhia (95th, $1.3 billion), who sold their ad tech firm Media.Net for $900 million to a consortium of Chinese investors.



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