• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

A Bad Year But Still Rich

Photo Credit :

Every year when we compile the list of India's Super Rich, what strikes me is the difference between the wealth of the top few and the rest. To appreciate that difference, consider the fortunes of Mukesh Ambani, who has been India's richest man for many years now. Last year was not particularly good for him. Though his company's profits and cash pile continued to increase, the price of its stock declined quite a bit. The elder Ambani saw his wealth erode by a staggering Rs 43,986 crore between 31 March 2011 and 31 March 2012. That amount would have wiped out the combined worth of numbers 252 to 497 on our Super Rich list.

The other point that comes out starkly is how differently investors value different sectors. This year, Sunil Mittal and family are number two on our list, with a wealth calculated at Rs 87,592 crore from the promoter's stake in Bharti Airtel. Azim Premji and family come in at third place with Rs 84,688 crore because of his stake in Wipro. At number four and five respectively, are Anil Agarwal and Kumar Mangalam Birla and their families.

Last year, Bharti Airtel clocked revenues of Rs 61,422 crore and gross profits of Rs 21,886 crore. Wipro had Rs 38,456 crore in revenues and Rs 8,300 crore in gross profits. On the other hand, the total revenues of Anil Agarwal's empire were Rs 66,263.90 crore and the combined gross profits of his companies came to 24,833.86 crore. Similarly, Kumar Managalam Birla's group companies had a combined revenue of Rs 1.60 lakh crore and combined profits of Rs 26,683 crore. Even after accounting for the difference in shareholding — Azim Premji holds 78.40 per cent of Wipro's shares, but Kumar Mangalam Birla's shareholding in his group companies is far lower — it is apparent that the market values information technology companies far more than it does companies in the commodity business, or for that matter, even telecom.

Last year was not particularly good for the super rich. They faced the double whammy of a sliding stock market and a falling rupee. Still, most of them did not curtail their lifestyles, if the numerous reports on the luxury market are true. But then, as Scott F. Fitzgerald wrote : "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me..."

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 30-07-2012)