Indian Billionaires’ Wealth Rose By A Third In Just Four Months
The former bank vault steel door that now serves as the entrance to Trinity Place is pictured in New York. (Photographer: Jennifer S. Altman/Bloomberg News.)

Indian Billionaires’ Wealth Rose By A Third In Just Four Months

India’s ultra rich saw their wealth grow by a third in just four months, defying the turbulence triggered in global markets by the pandemic.

The combined net worth of the nation’s billionaires rose by more than a third between April and July 2020, according to the Billionaires Insights Report 2020 published by UBS and PwC. And it has surged 90% since 2009 to $422.9 billion—to rank sixth in the world.

The report comes months after Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd., entered the list of the world’s 10 richest. In fact, he became 73% richer in the last year as his company’s stock rose in tandem with the dizzying fundraising by Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, according to another wealth report published by Hurun and IIFL a few weeks ago.

The wealth of India’s billionaires grew only faster than Russia's among the top ten countries, the UBS-PwC report showed. Other countries in the list include the U.S., China, Germany, Russia, France, Hong Kong, the U.K., Canada and Brazil.

To be sure, Indian billionaires were also relatively big on giving back at a time when the rich are being more generous than anytime in history.

Nine billionaires from the country donated $541 million for Covid-19-related causes in the form of financial donations, manufactured goods and equipment, or other commitments. That’s the most in the world after U.S. and China. Overall, the world’s billionaires donated $7.2 billion in the fight against the life-threatening virus.

Indian Billionaires’ Wealth Rose By A Third In Just Four Months

Globally, total billionaire wealth reached $10.2 trillion as on July 2020, touching a new high after the year’s V-shaped rebound in asset prices. However, there was a clear polarisation of wealth even among the wealthy, as tech, pharma and media billionaires’ wealth soared at a time when others’ barely grew. Tech billionaires prospered the most in the decade—pulling ahead in the polarisation of the final two years.

“Those that are the innovators and the disruptors, the architects of creative destruction in the economy, are still increasing their wealth,” the report stated. “Other billionaires, on the wrong side of economic, technological, societal and environmental trends are becoming less wealthy.”

Indian Billionaires’ Wealth Rose By A Third In Just Four Months

Here are the other key highlights from the report:

  • The billionaires falling within our definition of innovators and disruptors grew their wealth by 17% to $5.3 trillion, while traditional billionaires’ wealth increased by a smaller 6% to $3.7 trillion.

  • Healthcare billionaires are some of the past two years’ biggest gainers, especially Mainland China’s health industry leaders, who have ridden a surge in the country’s drug and medical devices industries.

  • Share of innovators and disruptor billionaires were highest in technology (94%) followed by health industries (71%) and media and entertainment (61%). The lowest were in the real estate sector (17%).

  • Approximately half of all billionaires—regardless of the business sector they originate from—have 21-40% of their net wealth invested in real estate.

  • By early April 2020, there were 2,058 billionaires, up from 969 at the end of 2009. Billionaires’ wealth almost tripled, from $2.8 trillion to $8.0 trillion.

  • Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro Ltd., topped the list of billionaires cognizant of environmental, social and corporate governance.

  • Nearly 60% of billionaires surveyed are accelerating their company’s succession planning over next 12 months.

(Corrects an earlier version to update the time period under review after a clarification from the publishers of the report.)

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