Ambanis, India top Forbes' Asia Family rich list

The Mukesh Ambani family has topped this year's Forbes list of Asia's Richest Families for the first time with a net worth of $44.8 billion, up $19 billion from the previous year, even as the country extended its biggest presence on the list for a third year, with 18 families among the region's top 50.

The collective wealth of Asia's 50 richest families on the list is a record $699 billion, up 35 per cent from last year, Forbes said in a statement on Wednesday.

Korea's Lee family was relegated to the second spot, despite their wealth soaring by $11.2 billion to $40.8 billion this year, and shares of Samsung Electronics rising 75 per cent.

Hong Kong's Kwok family, Asia's richest real estate family which controls Sun Hung Kai Properties, was ranked No 3 this year with a net wealth of $40.4 billion.

Thailand's Chearavanont family that controls the Charoen Pokphand Group, is in the fourth spot on the list, with a net worth of $36.6 billion.

''The cascading wealth of Asia's very richest active tycoons is reshaping the ranks of even this legacy-driven list. Because of India's size, the Ambanis can never be as dominant there as Samsung's Lees have been in Korea. But with Mukesh's next generation establishing a presence at the Reliance Jio telecom operation, this story could play out for years,'' Tim Ferguson, Editor of Forbes Asia, said.

For the third time, India enjoys the biggest presence on the list, with 18 families. Hong Kong follows with nine.

The Ambani family is this year's biggest gainer in dollar and percentage terms. Their net worth rose by $19 billion as shares in Mukesh Ambani's conglomerate Reliance Industries soared in the past year due to better refining margins and the demand produced by its telecom arm, Reliance Jio. Since its launch in 2016, Jio has notched up close to 140 million subscribers. Mukesh Ambani's younger brother Anil runs Reliance Communications.

The second richest family in India is the Premji family (ranked 11 with $19.2 billion net worth), followed by the Mittal family (ranked 14 with $17.2 billion); Mistry family (rank 16 with $$16.1 billion) and Birla family (ranked 19 with $14.1 billion), all of which make up the top five richest Indian families on the list.

Among the newcomers from India on this year's list include the Sehgals (No 41, $6.15 billion) and the Wadias (No 42, $6.14 billion).

A total of 43 clans from the 2016 list saw their wealth increase over the past one year, mainly due to an overall 25 per cent jump in Asia's stock markets for the year ended 31 October, according to the MSCI AC Asia Index.

Asia's 50 Richest Families list is a snapshot of wealth using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of markets on 3 November 2017. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded. To qualify, a family's wealth must be rooted in Asia and participation in building that fortune has to extend at least three generations.