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BW Businessworld

The Wealth Criterion

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The annual exercise Businessworld undertakes to compile India's super rich list always brings one point into sharp focus. Even among billionaires, the divide between the top few and the rest is really big. If we were to take the 254 rupee billionaires who are worth between Rs 100 crore and Rs 500 crore, their wealth would tot up to Rs 61,957 crore. The six dollar billionaires at the very top of our list — Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, Azim Premji, Sunil Mittal, Anil Agarwal and Anil Ambani each are worth more than that sum. Mukesh Ambani, in fact, is worth more than twice that. Savitri Jindal and her family, who come in at No. 7 in our list, are worth around Rs 61,290 crore — and that is after losing a notional Rs 6,000-odd crore in the year.

The top 10 in our Super Rich list have a combined wealth that is equal to that of the other 480 people in the list. Though the financial year was not particularly good for India's Super Rich, the top 10 still increased their combined wealth by Rs 40,855 crore.

India's richest siblings, the Ambani brothers, saw a notional drop in their wealth this year. Mukesh's wealth came down by nearly $1 billion, while Anil saw his wealth erode by $3 billion or so. For both the men and their families, this was more of a statistical change, whereas a loss of this amount would have bankrupted almost all except the top 20 or so in our list.

As financial years go, this one didn't create too many new billionaires, relatively speaking. Only about 30 new billionaires were created as opposed to the 200 additions the previous year. But then, that was when the stockmarket had rebounded from abysmal lows, and many of the new billionaires were actually those who had dropped off the list in 2008-09.

As always, the rich list highlights the sectors and companies that are in favour and those that investors are wary of. The billionaires from the construction sector saw an erosion in their wealth. On the other hand, the information technology industry rebounded sharply in terms of investor sentiments. Most IT czars saw their wealth increasing in the year.

Senior assistant editor Mahesh Nayak did the data work that forms the basis of our study. Associate editors Alokesh Bhattacharyya and Anup Jayaram anchored the issue.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 25-07-2011)