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India’s Adani Overtakes Buffett as World’s Fifth Richest

A college dropout who rose to dominate the coal sector, Adani has always had an eye for opportunity and a knack for navigating difficult seas, but controversy shadows many of his deals.


Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani
Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani has moved past Berkshire Hathaway chairman, and ace investor, Warren Buffett to become the fifth richest person in the world. AFP file photo.

 

Gautam Adani, the chairman of India’s ports-to-energy conglomerate the Adani Group, has overtaken the legendary investor Warren Buffett to become the world’s fifth richest person, according to a report by Forbes.

Adani’s net worth increased to $123.7 billion as of last week, according to Forbes, while Warren Buffett’s net worth remained at $121.7 billion.

Adani’s current net worth makes him India’s richest person, which is $19 billion more than the country’s second richest person, Mukesh Ambani, with an estimated $104.7 billion.

 

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ($130.2 billion), French luxury goods king Bernard Arnault ($167.9 billion), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($170.2 billion), and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk ($269.7 billion) are the four people worth more than Adani.

His Adani Group operation spans ports, edible oil, airports, power generation and distribution. Adani Enterprises, Adani Ports, Adani Power, Adani Total Gas, Adani Green Energy, and Adani Transmission are among the group’s seven publicly traded firms. Adani Wilmar, listed earlier this year, is the Group’s most recent debutant.

A college dropout who initially dominated the coal industry, Adani has always had a sharp eye for an opportunity and the ability to negotiate difficult political seas.

However, he appears to be perpetually embroiled in controversies, involving alleged environmental damage to human rights violations to tax evasion to money laundering and corruption.

His proposed Carmichael coal mine and train project in central Queensland, Australia, for example, has sparked outrage among millions of Australians and prompted considerable opposition from residents across the country.

Activists claim the project will harm the environment, compound Australia’s poor carbon emissions record, and potentially imperil indigenous culture in the area.

 

Bangladesh Power Plan Slammed

Similarly, Adani’s plan to export power from its plant in India’s Jharkand state to Bangladesh’s neighbour has been slammed for “overcharging” — about 2.74 times the generation cost.

The power plant has also been labelled as a damaging enterprise that infringes on indigenous land rights, depletes local water supplies, and threatens endangered animals.

The group and a former senior executive were also charged with cheating and corruption by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation in 2019 for alleged irregularities in its tendering procedure, as well as “over-invoicing” for equipment imports in order to get a larger share of incentives.

Yet, Adani’s net worth has risen dramatically in recent weeks as a result of a significant spike in numerous Adani Group shares.

For instance, up until now in 2022, three Adani Group firms have produced multibagger gains with Adani Wilmar increasing by 235% since its IPO, while Adani Power increased by 170% and Adani Green Energy rose by 110%.

Other companies in his group were up between 17% and 55% this year.

 

Adani Joins ‘Centibillionaire’ Club

That aside, Adani Power became the sixth company in the group to reach a market valuation of Rs 1 trillion on Monday, when its shares hit an all-time high of Rs 272 per share ($3.55).

This milestone has already been reached by Adani Green Energy, Adani Transmission, Adani Total Gas, Adani Enterprises, and Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone.

Consequently, Adani was propelled to ‘centibillionaire’ status – referring to people whose net wealth is $100 billion or above.

The overall wealth of billionaires in India has increased by $700 billion in the recent decade.

This is the same as Switzerland’s GDP and double the GDP of the United Arab Emirates, and it accounts for 8% of the world’s billionaires.

India has at least 215 billionaires, making it the world’s third-largest source of billionaires, highlighting the country’s vast rich-poor divide.

 

  • By Indrajit Basu

 

 

 

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Indrajit Basu

Indrajit Basu is an India-based correspondent for Asia Financial and wears two hats: journalist and researcher (equity). Before joining AF he reported on business, finance, technology, wealth management, and current affairs for China Daily, SCMP, UPI, India Today Group, Indian Express Group, and many more. He is also an award-winning researcher. If he didn't have to pay bills, he would be a wanderer.

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