‘Jio’ Mukesh Ambani, now Asia’s second richest man

‘Jio’ Mukesh Ambani, now Asia’s second richest man

Even as his ‘revolutionising’ Reliance Jio venture continues to suck in investments, Reliance Industries Ltd. chairman Mukesh Ambani has overtaken Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-shing to become Asia’s second-richest man with a net worth valued at a phenomenal USD 34.8 billion (around Rs 2.2 lakh crore).

Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has maintained his top slot in the list – a point he had reached in 2016.

According to the latest Bloomberg Billionaires Index (BBI) Ambani added a whopping USD 12.1 billion (around Rs. 77,000 crore) to his wealth since the 2016 rankings as shares of refining-to-telecom company surged to record high with a consistency that can only be the envy of his competitors – both Indian and global.

However, much like the stock market, the ranking too may change within days as it factors in the constantly see-sawing share prices. For instance, the Bloomberg report also states that Ambani had elbowed out Li Ka-shing – albeit only for a few days – on two earlier occasions this year – in April and early-July. With his net worth estimated at USD 34.8 billion Ambani also enjoys pole position on the global ranking of billionaires, occupying the 19th rank in the world-wide rankings, up 10 slots from last year’s 29.

A related report on the financial performance of Ambani’s telecom business states that despite sucking in over USD 31 billion in investments – a substantial chunk of which has been aimed at the success of Reliance Jio – this vertical is yet to earn Ambani and his shareholders any profits. The telecom business has in fact contributed to a near tripling of Reliance’s total debt since March 2012 and sparked a vicious price war in the world’s second-largest mobile-phone market. About 90 percent of Reliance’s revenues continue to come from its legacy refining and petrochemicals units, with retail, media and energy exploration contributing the rest.

With investors rallying behind Ambani’s decision to launch the cheapest 4G phone – a natural corollary to his Reliance Jio venture – it seems for now that the Reliance Industries chairman is set to maintain his position of pride among the world’s richest.

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