The richest person in India - and Asia - increased his fortune by $2.8 billion to $101.8 billion on Thursday, as shares of his flagship, Reliance Industries Ltd., surged 2.6% to a record high. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he will rejoin the $100 billion club for the first time since June 2022.
Reliance's chairman, Mukesh Ambani, owns 42% of the company, which operates in the energy, telecommunications, and retail sectors, among others. Its stock has risen 22% since its bottom in October when the company announced an increase in quarterly profit.
The billionaire is the world's 12th richest person, ahead of L'Oreal heir Francoise Bettencourt Meyers. Ambani's fortune spans from oil refinery to supermarkets, making him an outlier among the world's richest, who have mostly made their fortunes in technology. His rise up the wealth rankings has been more consistent than that of his colleague Gautam Adani, India's former richest person. Adani lost more money than anyone else in 2023 as a result of a vicious short-seller onslaught, and he now ranks two places behind Ambani on the index.
Ambani, 66, has helped Reliance become India's largest corporation by market capitalization. In recent years, the company's focus has shifted away from fossil fuels and towards technology and renewable energy. The launching of Reliance's financial services unit, Jio Financial Services Ltd., last year helped to diversify Ambani's fortune even further.
While Jio shares have only increased roughly 1% since coming public in August, the company is still India's third-largest shadow lender in terms of market capitalization. According to those familiar with the plans, the company's ultimate goal is to create India's version of WeChat, a super app that centralizes online shopping, video streaming, digital financing, and stock trading. Jio posted a quarterly profit that surged in its first set of earnings since being spun off from Reliance.
Ambani, who was embroiled in a vicious succession conflict with his younger brother Anil over two decades ago, is attempting to prevent a similar power struggle among his three children and has delegated operational responsibilities to them.
His eldest son, Akash, a Brown University alumnus, took over as chairman of telecom operator Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. last year, while his younger son Anant took over the group's renewable energy division. His daughter Isha, a Yale University graduate and former McKinsey & Company consultant, is in charge of the group's retail operations. In August of last year, all three were appointed to Reliance's board of directors.