Indian energy tycoon Gautam Adani has topped countryman Mukesh Ambani to become Asia’s richest person, an analysis by Forbes has found.
Despite controversy over Adani’s business – which encompasses ports, commodities, coal mines and solar power – the 59-year-old mogul’s net worth shot up to $90.1 billion, according to Forbes’ latest Real-Time Billionaire calculations on February 3.
Adani’s net worth just eclipsed that of Ambani, who runs the Reliance Industries conglomerate. Forbes put Ambani’s fortune at $100 million less – $90 billion, a margin that is small beer for these multi-billionaires.
Adani has enjoyed the world’s biggest jump in wealth this year, with his personal fortune up almost $12 billion, making him the 10th richest person in the world.
With his pursuit of the highly controversial Carmichael mine project in northern Australia, Adani became the the ugly face of big coal Down Under and around the world.
But the mogul’s investments in green energy at home have, curiously, helped his rise into the top echelons of world billionaires.
Adani Green Energy, a publicly traded firm that emerged as his most valued business after its share price soared 77% over the past year, has paid off handsomely over the past year.
Adani Group also owns 74% of Mumbai International Airport and controls India’s largest port, Mundra, in the mogul’s native state of Gujarat.
Meanwhile, Adani has set a blistering pace in his transformation into a green energy behemoth, and is now India’s solar energy king, thanks to a series of company buyouts.
His energy company now generates 1,500 megawatts of solar power, in comparison to the 300MW produced by Tata Power, the next biggest.
The businessman appears to be in sync with the ambitions of Indian prime minister, and fellow Gujarati, Narendra Modi. Indeed, the Adani Group plans to invest $70bn in green energy projects by 2030, and it has the goal of becoming the world’s largest generator of renewable energy.
Adani and Ambani have jumped ahead of Mark Zuckerberg, who has slipped to 12th place, according to Forbes, after the Meta Platforms (Facebook) CEO’s riches plummeted by $30 billion when his company’s shares fell by at least 26% recently, while his conglomerate’s value plunged by over $200 billion.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, the company revealed its first-ever dip in daily active users of Facebook.
Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has a net worth of about $232 billion, was listed at the world’s richest person.
The saddest part of this news is that while India’s two richest men saw their fortunes more than double in recent years, poverty worsened during the Covid pandemic over the past two years in their homeland.
According to an Oxfam Davos 2022 study, India added 40 billionaires to its list of 142 billionaires in 2021, with a combined worth of $720 billion, a sum that is greater than the wealth of the poorest 40% of the population.
• Indrajit Basu
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