India Doubles Billionaires Thanks to Healthy Economy

Thursday, 19 Nov 2009 12:23 PM

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MUMBAI -- A buoyant stock market and a still-robust economy have nearly doubled the number of billionaires in India, according to the Forbes' Rich List.

With the stock market having gained more than 75 percent this year and the economy growing at nearly 7 percent, the number of billionaires jumped to 52 in 2009 from 27 in the previous year, just two short of the record in 2007, according to the ranking.

Mukesh Ambani, chief of Reliance Industries, India's most valuable private firm, tops the list again with a net worth of about $32 billion, followed by steel baron Lakshmi Mittal with $30 billion. Their net worth rose by nearly half.

Rounding off the top three is Mukesh's estranged brother Anil Ambani, with an estimated net worth of $17.5 billion.

"Happy days are definitely back again for India's richest," said Nazneen Karmali, India editor of Forbes Asia.

"This year's list shows that when conditions in the financial markets and the economy are right, India has the scale and resources to produce billionaires faster than most countries."

The combined net worth of India's 100 wealthiest people is $276 billion, according to the list, about a quarter of the country's GDP and greater than China's $170 billion.

Savitri Jindal, non-executive chairwoman of O.P. Jindal Group, is at number seven and one of only six women on the list.

Others in the top 10 include Azim Premji, founder of No. 3 software exporter Wipro, steelmakers the Ruia brothers, real estate baron K.P. Singh and telecom tycoon Sunil Mittal.

India's list, unlike the global ranking, includes some family fortunes, Forbes said.

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