Mumbai: Gautam Adani, the Indian tycoon who has climbed the wealth rankings at breakneck speed this year, surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the world’s second-richest person.
Adani, who started the year as No. 14 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, now has a $146.8 billion fortune that lags behind only Elon Musk’s $263.9 billion. Shares of his flagship Adani Enterprises Ltd. surged to a record this week, and some of his group companies have climbed more than 1,000 per cent since 2020.
Bezos trails Adani by just $19 million as a renewed tech selloff Friday again hammered the fortunes of the richest Americans. The shift in the wealth rankings could be fleeting and depends largely on shares of Amazon.com Inc., which are down 26 per cent this year.
Adani first overtook India’s Mukesh Ambani as the richest Asian person in February, became a centibillionaire in April and surpassed Bill Gates and France’s Bernard Arnault in the past two months. It’s the first time someone from Asia has featured this highly in the top echelons of the wealth index, which has been dominated by US tech entrepreneurs.
Adani, 60, dropped out of college to try his luck in Mumbai’s diamond industry in the early 1980s before turning to coal and ports. His conglomerate has since expanded into everything from airports to data centers, cement, media and green energy, focusing on areas that Prime Minister Narendra Modi deems crucial to meeting India’s long-term economic goals.
The nation’s largest private-sector port and airport operators, city-gas distributor and coal miner are all part of Adani’s empire, which also aims to become the world’s largest renewable-energy producer. Last year, it pledged to invest $70 billion in green power, a pivot that has been criticized by some as greenwashing given that so much of the group’s revenue still comes from fossil fuels.
The push into renewables and infrastructure has earned Adani investments from firms including Warburg Pincus and TotalEnergies SE, helping boost his companies’ shares and his personal fortune. This year, he added about $70 billion to his wealth — more than anyone else — while many have seen losses.
Gautam Adani's wealth has surged more than anyone else's this year
Adani’s rise coincides with a tech selloff that has shaved more than $45 billion from Bezos’s fortune since January. The net worth of the Amazon founder — for years the world’s richest person — also significantly dropped after his 2019 divorce from ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, who received 4 per cent of the ecommerce giant.
The Indian tycoon, who has vowed to donate $7.7 billion for social causes, has also been able to climb the wealth ranking because many of the tech entrepreneurs at the top — such as Gates — have boosted their charitable giving.
Bezos has committed $10 billion to fight climate change and has donated money to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Gates and Warren Buffett, some of the top philanthropists, started the Giving Pledge initiative in 2010 to help ease a growing inequality gap. The Microsoft Corp. co-founder said in July he was transferring $20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has also received more than $35 billion from Buffett.