Gautam Adani has surpassed Bernard Arnault to become the world’s third richest person; first Asian to do so
Only a few years ago, few people outside of India had heard of Gautam Adani. Now, the Indian businessman, a college dropout who started out as a diamond trader before switching to coal, is the world’s third wealthiest person.
It’s the first time an Asian has cracked the top three of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index; fellow Indian Mukesh Ambani and China’s Jack Ma never got there. With a fortune of $137.4 billion, Mr. Adani has surpassed France’s Bernard Arnault and now trails only Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos of the United States on the ranking.
Mr. Adani, 60, has spent the last five years growing his coal-to-ports conglomerate, branching out into industries ranging from data centers to cement, media, and alumina. The business now owns India’s largest private-sector port and airport operator, as well as the country’s largest city-gas distributor and coal miner. While environmentalists have criticized its Carmichael project in Australia, it committed in November to invest $70 billion in green energy to become the world’s greatest renewable-energy generator.
Concerns have grown as his empire has grown to become one of the world’s greatest conglomerates, fueling the astounding wealth gains. Mr. Adani’s acquisition binge has been primarily supported by debt, and his business is “seriously over-leveraged.
Some lawmakers and market observers have also expressed worry about Adani Group firms’ opaque shareholder arrangements and a lack of analyst coverage. Nonetheless, the tycoon’s shares have risen – some by more than 1,000% since 2020, with prices reaching 750 times profits – as he has focused on areas that Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes are critical to India’s long-term aspirations.
The shift to green energy and infrastructure has attracted investments from corporations such as Warburg Pincus and Total Energies SE, propelling Mr. Adani into the ranks once held by US IT titans. The recent jump in coal prices has accelerated his rise.