The Indian media are reporting that, only a few months after Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu passed up Bill Gates to become the richest man on earth, Slim has already lost that distinction. From The Economic Times:
Following a strong share price rally on in his three group companies, India’s most valued firm Reliance Industries, Reliance Petroleum and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Ltd, the net worth of Mukesh Ambani rose to $63.2 billion (Rs 2,49,108 crore).
In comparison, the net worth of both Gates and Slim is estimated to be slightly lower at around $62.29 billion each, with Slim leading among the two by a narrow margin.
Reliance is India’s biggest private company, “with businesses in the energy and materials value chain.” So what does Ambani’s ascent to the top tell us?
1) Some people in India must have been running these numbers every few hours for months.
2) This global economy of ours is getting to be a very interesting place.
3) It’s good to be in the energy business these days.
4) It’s good to inherit the (bulk of the) family company.
5) The Indian stock market might be getting a little bubbly (although I’m going with the Greenspan rule here: we won’t know if there’s a bubble until it pops).
Update: Gotta share this about the house, if you can call it that, that Ambani is building in Mumbai. According to the Mumbai Mirror (and if you can’t trust the Mumbai Mirror, who can you trust?), it will be 173.12 meters (568 feet) tall, with 27 very high-ceilinged storeys–six of them for parking.
Update 2: The Times of India–which, while we’re getting into global superlatives here, is the world’s biggest-circulation English-language broadsheet–reports that, if you want to be picky about it, Ambani may be worth a mere $46 billion.
Update 3: Really, he’s not that rich. From The Economic Times:
Reliance Industries moved swiftly on Tuesday to deny a report that company chief Mukesh Ambani has become the world’s richest man thanks to a surge in India’s stock market.
The report by media putting his wealth at $63.2 billion saw newspapers hailing his rise as another triumph for the nation’s booming economy.
But Reliance said Ambani was not quite so rich after all, with a net worth of somewhere in the region of $50 billion.
Everything about Ambani is over-the-top: He’s moving into the world’s most expensive house; he’s constructing the world’s largest oil-refining complex; he’s trying to remake India’s scattershot retail industry. Yet despite all of his almost absurdly big plans, Ambani is anything but a publicity-seeking social climber. In fact, he’s a semi-recluse: awkward, shy, a traditional Hindu who practices strict vegetarianism and abstains from drinking alcohol. With his mix of hubris, business savvy, and personal eccentricity, he may be a modern-day Howard Hughes.