Gautama Adani, the Indian tycoon who climbed the wealth ladder at breakneck speed this year, surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the second richest person in the world.
Adani, who started the year at No. 14 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, now has a fortune of $146.8 billion, just behind Elon Musk’s $263.9 billion. Shares of Adani Enterprises Ltd. was at a record high, with some of the group’s companies growing by more than 1,000% since 2020.
Bezos is only $19 million behind Adani. The change in the wealth ladder could be fleeting and depends largely on Amazon.com Inc.’s stock, which has fallen 26% this year.
In February, Adani surpassed the Indian Mukesh Ambani as the richest Asian for the first time, and in the last two months he overtook the French Bill Gates and Bernard Arnault. It is the first time someone from Asia has performed so well at the top of the wealth index, which has been dominated by American tech entrepreneurs.
Adani, 60, dropped out of college to try his hand at Mumbai’s diamond industry in the early 1980s, before turning to coal and ports. Since then, his conglomerate has expanded into everything from airports to data centers, cement, media and green energy, focusing on areas that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sees as critical to achieving India’s long-term economic goals.
The country’s largest private port and airport operator, gas distributor and coal miner are part of the Adani empire, which also aims to become the world’s largest producer of renewable energy. Last year, it pledged to invest $70 billion in green energy, when many criticized it, as much of the group’s revenue still comes from fossil fuels.
The country’s largest private port and airport operator, city gas distributor and coal miner are part of the Adani empire, which also aims to become the world’s largest producer of renewable energy. Last year, it pledged to invest $70 billion in green energy, a move some criticized as greenwashing, as much of the group’s revenue still comes from fossil fuels.
The push for renewable energy and infrastructure has brought Adana investments from companies such as Warburg Pincus and TotalEnergies SE, helping to boost their companies’ stock and personal wealth. This year, he added about $70 billion to his bank account – more than anyone else – while many suffered losses.
The rapid expansion of the Adani conglomerate prompted CreditSights, a unit of the Fitch Group, to describe the growth of some companies as “elevated” in a September report. Some companies in the conglomerate traded at 700 times earnings, far outpacing the likes of Tesla Inc. and Amazon, whose rating approached 100 times.
Adani’s rise coincides with a drop in Jeff Bezos’ net worth of more than $45 billion. The Amazon founder’s net worth – for years the world’s richest person – also dropped significantly following his 2019 divorce from ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, who received 4% of the e-commerce giant.
The Indian mogul, who has pledged to donate $7.7 billion to social causes, has also climbed the wealth ladder as many of the top tech entrepreneurs – such as Gates – increased their charitable giving.
Bezos set aside $10 billion to fight climate change and donated money to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Gates and Warren Buffett, some of the world’s leading philanthropists, launched the Giving Pledge in 2010 to help alleviate growing inequality. Co-founder of Microsoft Corp. said in July that he was giving $20 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which also received more than $35 billion from Buffett.
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