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NOT SO SWEET 19

India’s richest man lost $300 million a day in the past two months due to coronavirus

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos
Reuters/Denis Balibouse
Dropping.
  • Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Coronavirus has substantially wiped out the personal wealth of India’s rich.

Ritesh Agarwal of hospitality group Oyo, for instance, fell out of the global dollar-billionaires club after his company’s valuation reportedly dropped to around $6 billion from $10 billion in the two months ending March 31, 2020, according to data from  Shanghai-based Hurun Research.

The 26-year-old Oyo founder and CEO was named the world’s second-youngest billionaire (Rs8,362 crore or $1.1 billion) by Hurun earlier this year. He was second only to Kylie Jenner, 22. However, with the pandemic breaking out, Oyo’s bookings in China dropped significantly. Earlier this year, Oyo laid off close to 7,000 employees in that country.

To battle the crisis, Agarwal has decided to forego 100% of his annual salary for 2020.

However, he isn’t the only Indian to drop off Hurun’s radar. Three Indian magnates dropped off the top 100 richest billionaires list in February-March 2020:

  • Gautam Adani, founder & chairman of conglomerate Adani Group, is estimated to have lost 37%, or $6 billion, of his wealth
  • HCL founder & chairman, Shiv Nadar’s, wealth declined by 26%, or $5 billion
  • Kotak Mahindra Bank founder, chairman & managing director Uday Kotak, has lost 28%, or $4 billion, from his wealth

“India’s top entrepreneurs have been hit by a 26% drop in the stock markets and a 5.2% drop in the value of the rupee compared with the US dollar,” said Anas Rahman Junaid, managing director & chief researcher at Hurun Report India.

India’s richest man himself has taken a massive hit. “For Mukesh Ambani, it has been a perfect storm, with his wealth down 28%,” Junaid added. The head of energy giant Reliance Industries and telco upstart Jio saw $19 billion shaved off his wealth. That’s $300 million a day.

Overall, the world’s top 100 billionaires lost $408 billion—or 13%—of their wealth in the two months ending on March 31, 2020. “The last two months have wiped out all the wealth made in the past two and a half years,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher. The ten richest together lost over a quarter of the amount at $125 billion.

Bernard Arnault of LVMH fame was the worst-hit, losing $30 billion in two months.

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