Along with Bezos and Musk, an Indian tycoon joins the select club of those with a fortune of US$ 100 billion

NEW YORK —Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest person, has joined Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk in the world’s most exclusive wealth club, with a fortune of at least $100 billion.

The chairman of India’s Reliance Industries joined the 11-centillion-dollar group after shares in his conglomerate hit a record on Friday. He is now worth $100.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after his fortunes registered a $23.8 billion rise this year.

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Since inheriting the oil refining and petrochemicals businesses from his late father’s empire in 2005, 64-year-old Ambani has sought to transform the energy giant into a retail, technology and e-commerce titan.

Its telecommunications unit, which started operating in 2016, is now the dominant operator in the Indian market. Its retail and technology ventures raised about $27 billion last year, selling shares to investors such as Facebook, Google, KKR & Co. and Silver Lake.

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Interest in green energy

Ambani revealed an ambitious interest in green energy in June, with a planned investment of around $10 billion over three years. And last month, the tycoon said his company would “aggressively” pursue cheaper green hydrogen production.

The plan is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitions to transform India into a global manufacturing hub for cleaner fuel to combat climate change and reduce energy imports by the world’s third-largest oil consumer.

While Ambani’s announcement was seen by some as an acknowledgment that his group needs to look beyond oil to cement its future, fossil fuel still plays a central role at Reliance, accounting for nearly 60% of its annual US$ revenue. 73 billion.

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The oil and chemicals business is now a separate unit, and negotiations are underway to obtain Saudi Arabian Oil Co. as an investor.

“Mukesh Ambani is at the forefront of creating new businesses with new emerging technologies,” said Chakri Lokapriya, chief investment officer at TCG Asset Management Co. in Mumbai, adding:

— Building businesses at scale with speed poses execution challenges, but he has demonstrated his capabilities.

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history of an empire

Reliance’s history dates back to the late 1960s, when Dhirubhai Ambani, who started out as a gas station attendant in Yemen, began transforming his polyester business into a vast empire.

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When he died of a stroke in 2002 without leaving a will, a succession rivalry erupted between his two sons, 62-year-old Mukesh and Anil, which was eventually resolved by the brothers’ mother, Kokilaben, in 2005.

Under the truce agreement, Mukesh took control of the core oil refining and petrochemical businesses, while his younger brother took over power generation, financial services and telecommunications services. Anil – who was once a billionaire – told a London court last year that his net worth was “zero”.

Mukesh Ambani, President and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Ltd., right, and his wife Nita Ambani, left, arrive for the company's annual general meeting in Mumbai, India, 2019 Photo: Bloomberg
Mukesh Ambani, President and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Ltd., right, and his wife Nita Ambani, left, arrive for the company’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, India, 2019 Photo: Bloomberg

India’s billionaires are some of the biggest earners on the world’s rich list, as Asia’s top-performing main stock market this year gets a boost from an increase in initial public offerings (IPOs).

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Gautam Adani, founder of coal-fired and renewable energy conglomerate Adani Group, has added $39.5 billion to his fortune this year, while the country’s third-richest person, technology magnate Azim Premji, has seen his wealth grow in $12.8 billion.

The list of centibillionaires and their fortunes

  • Elon Musk – US$222.1 billion
  • Jeff Bezos – $190.8 billion
  • Bernard Arnault – $155.6 billion
  • Bill Gates – US$ 127.9 billion
  • Larry Page – $124.5 billion
  • Mark Zuckerberg – $123.0 billion
  • Sergey Brin – US$ 120.1 billion
  • Larry Ellison – $108.2 billion
  • Steve Ballmer – $105.7 billion
  • Warren Buffet – $103.4 billion
  • Mukesh Ambani – US$ 100.6 billion

Source: Bloomberg Billionaires Index