Cement King Flies To Top Of Wealth Rankings

Indian billionaire's net worth surges powered by Reliance Industries Limited's never-ending acquisition spree.

Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), saw his net worth zoom to $97.6 billion so far in 2022, vaulting him past Zhong Shanshan and others to become one of the two Indian richest men in Asia according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (seventh richest according to Forbes). Share prices of Reliance, a Fortune Global 500 company and India’s largest company by market capitalization, soared. Ambani is its largest shareholder.

Born in 1957 in Yemen to a Gujarati Hindu family, he studied chemical engineering at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai and pursued an MBA at Stanford University but left the program in 1981 to join the family business. Reliance, initially a textile company, under Ambani’s leadership diversified into polyester fibers, petrochemicals and petroleum refining, oil and gas exploration and production, and further into media and entertainment, retail and telecom, setting benchmarks in every industry he touched.

In oil-scarce India, Ambani was instrumental in creating the world’s largest grassroots petroleum refinery, in Gujarat, India, with a capacity of 660,000 barrels per day. Ambani created the world’s most expansive 4G broadband wireless network, through his venture Jio Platforms, offering end-to-end solutions and cutting the cost of mobile communications. Jio became the first operator outside China to achieve 400 million subscribers from a single-country market.

Reliance is on a never-ending acquisition spree; the latest was in March 2022. A subsidiary company, Reliance Retail Ventures, acquired an 89% equity stake in Purple Panda Fashions Private, which owns Clovia, an industry leader in the intimate wear category. Reliance Retail is the largest retail player in India and the only Indian retailer to compete with global powerhouses.

Currently, Ambani is pivoting toward green energy and invested more than $80 billion into renewable power projects and hydrogen systems.