Gautam Adani becomes world’s third-richest person as wealth surges

NEW DELHI: Very few people outside of India had heard of Gautam Adani just a few years ago. Now the businessman, a college dropout who first tried his luck as a diamond trader before turning to the coal business, has become the world’s third-richest person. .
It’s the first time an Asian has entered the top three of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index – compatriots Mukesh Ambani and Jack Ma of China have never come this far.
With a fortune of $ 137.4 billion, Adani has surpassed Bernard Arnault of France and is currently only behind Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos of the US in the ranking.
Adani, 60, has spent the past few years expanding the group from coal to ports, investing in everything from data centers to cement, media and alumina.
The group now owns India’s largest private sector port and airport operator, municipal gas distributor and coal mining company. While the Carmichael mine in Australia has been criticized by environmentalists, in November it pledged to invest $70 billion in green energy to become the world’s largest producer of renewable energy.
As his empire has expanded into one of the largest corporations in the world, fueling a substantial increase in wealth, concerns have grown about the rapid pace of growth.
CreditSights said in a report this month, Adani’s deals are primarily debt-funded, and that his empire is “deeply over-leveraged”.
Some lawmakers and market observers have also raised concerns about the unclear shareholder structure and lack of analyst coverage at Adani Group companies. Still, shares have skyrocketed – some of them more than 1,000% since 2020, with valuations hitting 750 times earnings – as the tycoon focuses on areas Prime Minister Narendra Modi deems important. to meet India’s long-term goals.
The pivot to green energy and infrastructure has won investments from companies including Warburg Pincus and TotalEnergies SE, putting Adani in a position previously dominated by US tech moguls. The rise in coal in recent months has added to his ascent.
All told, Adani added $60.9 billion to his fortune in 2022 alone, 5 times more than anyone else. He first surpassed Ambani to become Asia’s richest person in February, became a dollar billionaire in April, and surpassed Microsoft Corp’s Bill Gates to become the world’s fourth-richest person last month.
Adani has been able to overtake some of the richest American billionaires in the world in part because it has recently stepped up its philanthropy. Gates said in July he has donated $20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, while Warren Buffett has donated more than $35 billion to the charity.
The two, along with Melinda French Gates, Gates’ ex-wife, started the Giving Pledge initiative in 2010, vowing to give away most of their fortune in their lifetime. Billions of dollars spent on philanthropy have pushed them lower on Bloomberg’s rich rankings. Gates is currently fifth and Buffett is sixth.
Adani, too, has stepped up charitable donations. In June, he pledged to donate $7.7 billion to social causes to mark his 60th birthday.

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