Billionaire Gautam Adani overtakes Mukesh Ambani to become Asia’s richest person

The Adani Group chairman is the world’s biggest wealth-gainer this year with a $12bn jump in net worth

LUCKNOW, INDIA - FEBRUARY 21: Gautam Adani, chairman and founder of Adani Group at the inaugural session of the UP Investors' Summit - 2018 at the Indira Gandhi Pratishthan, on February 21, 2018 in Lucknow, India. PM Modi said that investors in Uttar Pradesh will be welcomed with a red carpet instead of facing red tape in Uttar Pradesh as top industry leaders pledged investments of over Rs 88,000 crore in the state. The Summit is aimed at showcasing the investment opportunities and potential in the various sectors of Uttar Pradesh. The UP Investors' Summit is being attended by around 5,000 people, including industry leaders from India and abroad, chief ministers, union ministers, policy makers and academicians. (Photo by Subhankar Chakraborty/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
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Billionaire Gautam Adani is the wealthiest person in Asia with a net worth of $88.5 billion and now ranks as the 10th-richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The 59-year-old tycoon has overtaken Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, whose current net worth is $87.9bn, according to the index.

Mr Adani is also the world’s biggest wealth-gainer this year after his net worth jumped almost $12bn.

A self-made billionaire, Mr Adani is chairman of the Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate active in logistics, agribusiness and the energy sector.

“Today, he is one of the 100 most influential businessmen worldwide, both in the shipping trade and infrastructure industry,” according to Celebrity Net Worth, which tracks the wealth and finances of the rich and famous.

Mr Adani, a first-generation entrepreneur who started off as a diamond trader in Mumbai in the 1980s, helped run his brother’s plastics business in his home state of Gujarat before setting up Adani Enterprises — the group’s flagship company — as an agri-commodities trader in 1988.

Over the past two decades, the group has diversified into ports, power generation and distribution, airports, data centres and digital services. Mr Adani added $52bn to his net worth last year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The billionaire aims to recast his empire built on coal mining and trading into a renewable energy giant.

The Adani Group committed to invest $70bn by 2030 across its green energy value chain to become the world’s largest renewable energy producer. This dovetails with India’s pledge to touch net-zero carbon emissions by 2070 at the Cop26 climate change summit last year.

It is also rapidly ramping up its solar energy portfolio and its ports business to be carbon neutral by 2025.

Adani companies raised about $1.1bn in green and sustainability-linked dollar bonds in 2021, and another $1.35bn in offshore loans — making them the biggest issuers of environmental, social and governance debt from India, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

In May 2021, the conglomerate paid $3.5bn to buy SoftBank Group’s local clean energy unit as it gets closer to its goal of having 25 gigawatts of renewable power capacity by 2025, up from an installed capacity of 5.4 gigawatts currently.

The group “has had an early start and our portfolio includes increasingly green ports, green airports, green power and green transmission”, Mr Adani said. “No other company has yet made so large a bet on developing its sustainability infrastructure.”

A signage of Adani Group outside the Chatrapati Shivaji Mumbai International Airport. The Adani Group took over management control of the airport last year. AFP

Mr Adani’s sustainability claims, however, are criticised by climate campaigners who point to the group’s Carmichael coal mining project in Australia, which will expand supplies of fossil fuel. The Adani Group opted to self-fund after having trouble in securing external funding.

The Adani Group controls seven airports, including Mumbai International Airport.

Total and Warburg Pincus are among the companies that invested in Mr Adani’s companies last year. The French oil giant agreed in January 2021 to buy 20 per cent of Adani Green Energy and a 50 per cent stake in a portfolio of operating solar assets.

In March 2021, Warburg said it would invest $110 million in exchange for about half-a-per cent of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone.

The MSCI India Index added three Adani Group companies to the benchmark gauge last year. These include flagship Adani Enterprises, gas supplier Adani Total Gas and power distributor Adani Transmission.

Updated: February 08, 2022, 10:35 AM