For the first time, all of India's top 100 tycoons are billionaires, according to the latest Forbes rich list.
In yet another indication that India's mega-rich are getting richer while the average citizen continues to struggle, Forbes says the combined net worth of India's 100 wealthiest, at $346 billion, is up more than a third from $259 billion in 2013.
Naazneen Karmali, India editor of Forbes Asia, said, ''In 2014, India's outlook has moved very quickly from gloom to boom. The new federal government's mandate for change has sparked euphoria in the stock market causing a seismic shift in Indian wealth this year.
''Hopefully these gains are real and will be sustained as the economy revives and India fulfils its potential.''
India's stock market has scaled new peaks, gaining 28 per cent since January this year. However, surge is not backed by hard economic data, as overall growth remains sluggish despite marginal improvement.
Mukesh Ambani tops the list of India's mega-rich for the eighth consecutive year with a net worth of $23.6 billion, up $2.6 billion from last year.
Dilip Shanghvi, founder of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, India's most valuable drug maker, follows at No 2, overtaking steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who slips to fifth place.
Sun Pharmaceutical's shares surged after it acquired rival Ranbaxy Laboratories from Japan's Daiichi Sankyo for $4 billion in April, and the 59-year old Shanghvi saw his fortune rise by $4.1 billion to $18 billion.
Moving up one notch to No 3 is Azim Premji of software firm Wipro, whose net wealth increased to $16.4 billion from $13.8 billion previously.
The biggest dollar gainer is ports magnate Gautam Adani, who jumped 11 spots to No 11, adding nearly $4.5 billion to his wealth which reached $7.1 billion on soaring shares of his companies.
Adani has been on a buying spree - he bought a port in eastern India the Tata Group for $900 million and agreed to pay $1 billion for a power plant in southern India.
As many as 85 of the 89 who returned to the top 100 from last year are wealthier, and several are billionaires for the first time. Among them are Qimat Rai Gupta of electric equipment maker Havells (No 48, $1.95 billion), Café Coffee Day's V G Siddhartha (No 75, $1.27 billion), and brothers Sanjiv Goenka (No 69, $1.4 billion) and Harsh Goenka (No 82, $1.18 billion), who run the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group and the RPG Group respectively.
Sourav Majumdar, editor, Forbes India, said, ''With the stock market on a bull run and renewed optimism in the air, this year's list is an all-billionaires list. The good news is the distribution of wealth among the 100 continues to be broad-based, and is not concentrated at the top of the heap. The power of Indian enterprise continues to grow stronger, despite the odds.''
The biggest loser this year is Indus Gas founder Ajay Kalsi (No 85, $1.15 billion), who lost $1 billion after the government stalled an increase in the nation's natural gas prices.
The minimum amount required to make the list was $1 billion, up from $635 million in 2013. With a record minimum net worth this year, 11 from last year fell off, includingtycoons Brij Bhushan Singal and Vijay Mallya.
The his list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and India's regulatory agencies.
The ranking lists family fortunes, including those shared among extended families such as the Godrej and Bajaj families. Public fortunes were calculated based on stock prices and exchange rates as of 12 September. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded.
India's top ten tycoons:
- Mukesh Ambani; US$23.6 billion
- Dilip Shanghvi; $18 billion
- Azim Premji; $16.4 billion
- Pallonji Mistry; $15.9 billion
- Lakshmi Mittal; $15.8 billion
- Hinduja brothers; $13.3 billion
- Shiv Nadar; $12.5 billion
- Godrej family; $11.6 billion
- Kumar Mangalam Birla; $9.2 billion
- Sunil Mittal; $7.8 billion