BY S VENKAT NARAYAN – Our special correspondent
NEW DELHI, September 3: Indian businessman Gautam Adani, a college dropout, has become the third richest person in the world. Unknown until a few years ago, he first tried his luck as a diamond dealer before turning to coal. This is the first time that an Asian has entered the top 3 of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Fellow Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani and China’s Jack Ma have never gone this far.
With a fortune of $137.4 billion, Adani has overtaken Frenchman Bernard Arnault and now trails only Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos from the United States in the world rankings. Adani, 60, has spent the past few years growing his conglomerate from coal to ports, venturing into everything from data centers to cement, media and alumina.
The group now owns India’s largest private port and airport operator, town gas distributor and coal miner. While its Carmichael mine in Australia has been criticized by environmentalists, it pledged in November to invest $70 billion in green energy to become the world’s largest producer of renewable energy.
As his empire grew into one of the world’s largest conglomerates, fueling remarkable wealth gains, worries grew over the rapid growth. a report this month.
Some lawmakers and market watchers have also raised concerns about opaque shareholding structures and a lack of analyst coverage at Adani Group companies. focused on areas that Prime Minister Narendra Modi deems crucial to achieving India’s long-term goals.
The pivot to green energy and infrastructure has attracted investment from companies including Warburg Pincus and TotalEnergies SE, helping Adani enter the echelons previously dominated by US tech moguls. The boom in coal in recent months has further accelerated its rise.
In total, Adani added $60.9 billion to his fortune in 2022 alone. That’s five times more than anyone else. He first overtook fellow Gujarati Mukesh Ambani as the richest Asian in February, became a centi-billionaire in April and overtook Microsoft Corp’s Bill Gates. as the fourth richest person in the world last month.
Adani has been able to overtake some of the world’s richest American billionaires, in part because they have recently stepped up their philanthropy. Gates said in July he was transferring $20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, while Warren Buffett has already donated more than $35 billion to the charity.
The two, along with Gates’ ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, launched the Giving Pledge initiative in 2010, vowing to give away most of their wealth in their lifetime. Billions of dollars spent on philanthropy have pushed them lower in Bloomberg’s wealth rankings. Gates is now fifth and Buffett is sixth. Adani has also increased his charitable donations. He pledged in June to donate $7.7 billion to social causes on his 60th birthday.