Stock - Adani
Adani is exploring potential partnerships in Saudi Arabia, including the possibility of buying a stake in the world’s largest oil exporter. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Mumbai: The centibillionaires club has a new member: Gautam Adani.

The Indian tycoon, whose empire includes ports, mines and green energy, is the latest whose fortune reached the $100 billion mark. Up almost $24 billion this year, he’s the world’s biggest gainer and joins nine other members of the elite group. Fellow countryman Mukesh Ambani, whose net worth first topped that benchmark in October, has now dropped slightly below it to $99 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Adani’s ascent has been nothing short of spectacular. The college dropout who first made a fortune in the coal industry has amassed almost all of his wealth in the past two years, thanks to a shift to green energy and infrastructure that landed him investments from companies including France’s Total SE and Warburg Pincus.

He’s also though exploring potential partnerships in Saudi Arabia, including the possibility of buying a stake in the world’s largest oil exporter, people with knowledge of the matter said.

His focus on expanding in areas that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi deems crucial to nation-building and meeting the country’s long-term economic goals is paying off: Some Adani Group stocks have surged more than 1,000 per cent since 2020.

While 2021 was a good year for the rich, with the world’s 500 wealthiest people added more than $1 trillion to their combined fortunes, Adani, 59, stood out. His net worth soared by $42.7 billion, one of the biggest gains. In February he briefly became Asia’s richest person, eclipsing Ambani.

Adani and Ambani, 64, the chairman of oil-and-petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries ltd., reached the pinnacle of a wealth ranking that’s dominated by people who largely made their fortunes in the US technology sector. Like Adani, Ambani was able to pivot his conglomerate to new industries - e-commerce and tech - getting billions of dollars in investments from backers including Facebook and Google.

Wealth creation has accelerated in recent years. In 2017, Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos was the first to hit the $100 billion milestone since Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates back in 1999. Tesla’s Elon Musk, now the world’s richest person with a fortune of $273 billion, joined the group in 2020.