Gautam Adani takes the podium as the third-richest man in the world
Indian-born Gautam Adani on Tuesday became the world’s third richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, marking the first time an Asian has made it into the top three.
This is incredible as Gautam Adani, a self-made billionaire, more than doubled his wealth last year to US$137.4 billion, ranking him just behind Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the Bloomberg index, after a 20-place jump. Mr Adani, 60, made his fortune in ports and commodities trading and now runs India’s third-largest conglomerate with interests ranging from coal mining and edible oils to airports and media.
The value of Adani Enterprises Group, which the billionaire holds 75%, has risen by more than 2,400% since March 2020 and doubled in value in the last six months. The soaring share prices of other companies in the group, such as Adani Transmission, Adani Power, Adani Ports and Adani Green Energy, have helped Mr Adani’s fortune surpass that of fellow billionaire Mukesh Ambani.
Born in the city of Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat to a middle-class family, Mr Adani dropped out of school to work briefly in the diamond industry before starting his export business in 1988.
In the mid-1990s, the billionaire. Adani, diversifying, won the contract to build and operate the Mundra trading port in Gujarat, which has since become India’s most significant. At the same time, Mr Adani entered thermal power generation and coal mining in India and abroad.
Recently, the conglomerate has forayed into petrochemicals, cement, data centres and copper refining, setting up a renewable energy company with ambitious goals.
With recent investments in Indian media and a bid for 5G this year, its expanding empire seemed poised to encroach on Mr Ambani’s Reliance Industries. But Fitch Group’s CreditSights warned that Mr Adani’s group was “deeply over-leveraged”.
“In the worst-case scenario, overly ambitious debt-financed growth plans could turn into a colossal debt trap, eventually ending in distress or default,” the research firm said in a note.