Tag Archive for 'Mukesh Ambani'

Decadence and the IPL

In Times of India, Mukul Kesavan says it’s not just dumbing down, not just monstrous but IPL is a celebration of utter decadence.

In the beginning, the Indian Premier League (IPL) seemed just a new kind of tournament. At worst, it was a dumbing down of cricket, at best, it was inspired event management. In the five years since its inception, though, it has become monstrous.

The tournament is historically interesting because it is republican India’s first public celebration of decadence. One charac- teristic feature of decadence is a contempt for convention and procedural scruple. Indians are familiar with this in everyday life, but the IPL is a departure in that the people involved with it legitimise and defend conflicts of interest explicitly and in full public view.  more

Statement houses for Mumbai’s super-rich

Why hasn’t India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani moved into his 27-story house, asks Vikas Bajaj in New York Times

When the richest man in India completed his extravagant 27-story house here last year, it incited a public debate along the lines of “What’s he trying to prove?”

Now, the chatter involves a different question: Why hasn’t he moved in?

The owner, Mukesh Ambani, and his spokesman have declined to discuss the matter, leaving plenty of room for theories. One popular explanation is that despite the time and money lavished upon it, the building does not conform to the ancient Indian architectural doctrine known as vastu shastra. (More on that below.)

Certainly the home — which is called Antilia and according to Indian news reports has three helipads, six floors of parking and a series of floating gardens — looks lived in. more

And, also in New York Times, Neha Thirani on Mumbai’s new status symbol among the super-rich: an apartment building of their own

Not far from Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey tower, Antilia, a competing skyscraper is making its way into Mumbai’s skyline.

The building is being built by the Singhania family, which controls the Raymond Group, the ubiquitous Indian suit maker. Seen at a distance, the two buildings are strikingly similar.

They both have soaring columns, large sea-facing windows and a nearly identical jigsaw puzzle facade. They have a similar sense of scale and emphasis on grandeur. In a city where space is considered the biggest luxury, both buildings seem to be advertising their exclusivity. more

The peculiar pedigree of the business class

The Baniya’s culture of focused wealth creation is very good in many ways, but not all of this culture is good. Aakar Patel in Mint Lounge:

Forbes magazine has put out a list of the world’s 1,210 billionaires. Fifty-five of them are Indians. A billion dollars is Rs. 4,480 crore. A Baniya is a member of the Vaish caste, originating mainly from Rajasthan and Gujarat.

They are under 1% of India’s population.

India’s richest man is a Baniya (Lakshmi Mittal, world’s sixth richest with $31.1 billion), India’s second richest man is a Baniya (Mukesh Ambani, $27 billion), India’s third richest man is a Khoja (Azim Premji, $16.8 billion), India’s fourth richest men are Baniyas (Shashi and Ravi Ruia, $15.8 billion), India’s fifth richest person is a Baniya (Savitri Jindal, $13.2 billion), India’s sixth richest man is a Baniya (Gautam Adani, $10 billion), India’s seventh richest man is a Baniya (Kumar Mangalam Birla, $9.2 billion), India’s eighth richest man is a Baniya (Anil Ambani, $8.8 billion), India’s ninth richest man is a Baniya (Sunil Mittal, $8.3 billion). India’s 10th richest man is a Parsi (Adi Godrej, world’s 130th richest with $7.3 billion).

Score: Baniyas 8, Rest of India 2. If we consider the Gujaratis Godrej and Premji (from the Lohana caste) as coming from mercantile communities then actually Rest of India wasn’t playing this match so far. More:

 

Just how wealthy are Indians now?

Graphic: Open

Aresh Shirali in Open:

Well, India sold as many as 70 Rolls-Royce cars last year, many of them the Rs 4.5 crore Phantom. But the real hotseller was Porsche, over 300 of which were taken possession of. In all, some 15,000 luxury cars—priced above Rs 20 lakh apiece—rolled onto Indian roads: BMWs, Mercedes’, Audis and other such gleamers that were a rarity in India until only a few years ago.

So, how wealthy are India’s Wealthy? According to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report 2010, India has some 170,000 High Networth Individuals (HNIs) in all. These are people who may not be aware of it, but are dollar millionaires at the very least: with saleable assets minus debts valued at Rs 4.5 crore or more. According to the report (see ‘India’s Wealth Pyramid’ overleaf), India now has 25 dollar billionaires and 35 near-billionaires (with wealth in the $500 million–$1 billion range). And they are just the ones on top. Wealth, do note, is less easily assessed than income. So let’s look at earnings first.

Broadly, the top of India’s Income Pyramid now has 3 million households that are classified as ‘Rich’ by the Delhi-based Centre for Macro Consumer Research of the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), which, in the country’s largest exercise of this kind, has used an all-India sample of over 63,000 homes to gather data for this estimate. The 3 million Rich at the top are households whose annual earnings exceed Rs 17 lakh, and are home to about 16 million individuals.

At one level, that’s a lot of people. Yet, the so privileged would form only 1.3 per cent of India’s population, a sliver small enough to slip through the census cracks. And it’s quite sobering to think that there were only 1 million Rich homes just a decade ago, though the cut-off was lower back then. “It is in some sense an arbitrary criterion,” says Dr Rajesh Shukla, director of NCAER’s Centre for Macro Consumer Research, “but if you look at qualitative indicators like occupation and education, at least income is more meaningful than those.” More:

Welcome to the Matrix of the Indian state

The Radia tapes reveal the networks and routers, the source codes and malware that bind the corporate and political establishments in India. Siddharth Varadarajan in The Hindu:

As squeamish schoolchildren know only too well, dissection is a messy business. Some instinctively turn away, others become nauseous or scared. Not everyone can stomach first hand the inner workings of an organic system. Ten days ago, a scalpel — in the form of a set of 104 intercepted telephone conversations — cut through the tiniest cross-section of a rotting cadaver known as the Indian Establishment. What got exposed is so unpleasant that several major newspapers and television channels that normally scramble to bring “breaking” and “exclusive” stories have chosen to look the other way. Their silence, though understandable, is unfortunate. Even unforgivable.

After all, the tape recordings of Niira Radia’s phone conversations have come to light against the backdrop of the recent Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report on the allocation of 2G spectrum, which demonstrated how the rules were arbitrarily bent by the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, in order to favour a handful of private companies at government expense. Among the beneficiaries of Mr. Raja’s raj were Anil Ambani. And also Ratan Tata. In one of the tapes, an unidentified interlocutor asks Ms Radia, whose clients include both Mr. Tata and Mukesh Ambani, why “you people [i.e. the Mukesh Ambani group] are supporting [Raja] like anything … when the younger brother [Anil Ambani] is the biggest beneficiary of the so called spectrum allocation”. “Issue bahut complex hai,” Ms Radia replies. “ Mere client Tatas bhi beneficiary rahein hain (my client, the Tatas, have also been a beneficiary).”

Apart from telecom, the tapes also provide valuable insight into the gas dispute between the two Ambani brothers. This was a dispute in which Mukesh Ambani made skillful use of the “gas is a national resource” argument with a pliant media even as he used his influence with individual MPs to try and orchestrate a massive tax concession for his company from the same national resource, Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin natural gas. More:

A durable yarn

In The Economist, a review of “Mahabharata in Polyester: The Making of the World’s Richest Brothers and Their Feud” by Hamish McDonald:

Anil and Mukesh Ambani

Dhirubhai Ambani grew up in a two-room home with an earthen floor in the Indian state of Gujarat, close to the Arabian Sea. Later this month his eldest son, Mukesh (pictured above, right), head of Reliance Industries and the world’s fourth richest man, will throw a party to show off his new home in Mumbai, a towering vertical palace with six floors of parking space, three helipads and a hanging garden.

The story of how the Ambanis moved from dusty provinces to city skyscrapers is a tale of pluck, guile and vaulting ambition. But telling it also requires courage and tenacity. Hamish McDonald, an Australian journalist who was posted to Delhi in the 1990s, brought out his first book on Ambani, “The Polyester Prince”, in 1998. Publication in India was scrapped after Reliance set its heart on legal action, but the book became required reading for anyone interested in Indian industry. In his new work, “Mahabharata in Polyester”, Mr McDonald brings the story up to date, adding chapters about Dhirubhai’s death in 2002 and the subsequent feud between his two sons, Mukesh and Anil.

The young Dhirubhai lacked money, but not charisma. He raised his first 100,000 rupees (now $2,250) from a second cousin’s father and was introduced to yarn trading by a nephew. His first ventures into textile-making were run by Gujaratis back from Yemen, where Dhirubhai had worked for a petrol company during the day while trading rice, sugar and other commodities in the souk after hours. More:

Soaring above Mumbai’s poverty, a billion-dollar home

Jim Yardley on Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey home in Mumbai. In The New York Times:

The newest and most exclusive residential tower for this city’s superrich is a cantilevered sheath of steel and glass soaring 27 floors into the sky. The parking garage fills six levels. Three helipads are on the roof. There are terraces upon terraces, airborne swimming pools and hanging gardens in a Blade Runner-meets-Babylon edifice overlooking India’s most dynamic city.

There are nine elevators, a spa, a 50-seat theater and a grand ballroom. Hundreds of servants and staff are expected to work inside. And now, finally, after several years of planning and construction, the residents are about to move in.

All five of them.

The tower, known as Antilia, is the new home of India’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani, whose $27 billion fortune also ranks him among the richest people in the world. And even here in the country’s financial capital, where residents bear daily witness to the stark extremes of Indian wealth and poverty, Mr. Ambani’s building is so spectacularly over the top that the city’s already elastic boundaries of excess and disparity are being stretched to new dimensions. More:

Mukesh Ambani tops Forbes India Richest List

India has 69 Billionaires. More in Forbes:

Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, has topped the latest Forbes’ India Rich List with a net worth of US$27 billion, for the third consecutive time. Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, remains at No. 2 with a net worth of US$26.1 billion. However both are less well off than they were a year ago, with 15% of Mukesh’s wealth and 15% Lakshmi’s being lopped off over the year.

The top 10 richest in India are:

1 ) Mukesh Ambani; US$27 billion

2 ) Lakshmi Mittal; $26.1 billion

3 ) Azim Premji; $17.6 billion

4 ) Shashi & Ravi Ruia; $15 billion

5 ) Savitri Jindal; $14.4 billion

6 ) Anil Ambani; $13.3 billion

7 ) Gautam Adani; $10.7 billion

8 ) Kushal Pal Singh; $9.2 billion

9 ) Sunil Mittal; $8.6 billion

1 0 ) Kumar Birla; $8.5 billion

And here

Unauthorised biography of Dhirubhai Ambani

For over a decade, The Polyester Prince, an unauthorised biography of Dhirubhai Ambani by Hamish McDonald, was unavailable to Indian readers thanks to legal opposition from the Reliance group. Finally, an up-to-date version of the book, titled Ambani & Sons, is being published in India. Exclusive excerpts in Outlook:

Dhirubhai felt no need to leave a will, apparently confident that Anil would agree to work under Mukesh’s leadership. This was not at all Anil’s attitude when Dhirubhai died in July 2002. He immediately proposed that Kokilaben assume the Reliance chairmanship, leaving the sons as almost equal executive directors.

Mukesh rejected this immediately as “giving the wrong signal” and was voted chairman at the end of the month by the other directors. Talks about splitting the empire between the brothers began around November that year, with Anil talking to both (Anand) Jain and (Amitabh) Jhunjhunwala, but did not make any progress. Around this time, Anil learnt about the reconfigured ownership web. “When Anil got to know about the new matrix in 2002-03, he went berserk,” (Alam) Srinivas said. “It seemed to him that Mukesh had stabbed him in the back.”

The issue simmered through 2003, with Anil occasionally reverting to his old role as the public face of the group. The Indian media occasionally hinted at a surrogate rivalry between the two brothers’ wives. Nita Ambani, married to Mukesh, was emerging as a concerned and active corporate wife. She had supervised the planting of the green belt of mango trees around the Jamnagar refinery and the extension of drinking water to local villages from its seawater desalinators. In Mumbai, she had handled the design and landscaping of the company’s ‘Knowledge City’, ran the board of the new Dhirubhai Ambani International School and pursued educational programmes for slum children, besides practising yoga and traditional dance. More:

Mukesh Ambani to be richest man in world in 2014: Forbes

From the Economic Times:

With a net worth of USD 62 billion, Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani would be he richest man on earth in 2014, according to a forecast issued by the prestigious Forbes magazine.

“One of the predictions is that Reliance Industries’ chief Ambani, who currently has a net worth of 29 billion dollars, pips the world’s richest man Mexican businessman Carlos Slim to top Forbes’ rich list in 2014,” it said.

Ambani’s net worth swells to USD 62 billion while Slim is “hit hard by Mexican political, financial chaos,” according to the prediction by Forbes.

53-year-old Ambani currently ranks fourth on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires.

Forbes has listed a number of events that could happen over the next 10 years in the field of politics, energy, medicine, finance, society and technology. The publication asked its staff and contributors to forecast some of the “noteworthy events” till 2020. More:

Profile: Nita Ambani

Srikanth Srinivas in Business World:

It is not easy scheduling an interview with Nita Ambani. She is going through a particularly busy phase at the moment. She is supervising the building of a new wing at Mumbai’s Hurkisondas Nurrotumdas Hospital, run by a trust controlled by the Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation, and it requires lots of concentrated attention. She has to also make sure that the Mumbai Indians are in perfect shape for the Champions League. There is a list of sportsmen to be reviewed to determine who will go to the US on a sports scholarship from IMG Reliance, a joint venture between Reliance Industries (RIL) and IMG World.

Then there is the Dhirubhai Ambani International School (DAIS) — it runs smoothly, but Nita cannot stay away from the project closest to her heart and needs to go there regularly. Also, there are the affairs of the Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation, which she chairs, to go through. And, of course, the numerous family and other commitments that are part and parcel of being wife of Mukesh Ambani and the first lady of the RIL empire.

It takes us three weeks and numerous calls to fix the meeting. But once she confirms it, there are no hitches. We are ushered into the beautiful waiting room of her office on the 12th floor of Maker Chamber 4 in Mumbai’s Nariman Point. Unlike the reception areas of other corporate bosses, this one is remarkably bare — no magazines, newspapers or phones: no clutter at all.

Nita is just winding up another meeting, but we do not have to wait long. She meets us within 10 minutes of the appointed time. “Everything at Reliance is always a bit of a whirlwind. So many things are happening all the time that you have to constantly shift focus,” she laughs by way of explaining the time it took to catch up with her. But once we are with her, there are no interruptions. Nita gives her full attention to anything she is doing during the time she has allotted for it. Like the waiting room, the office is also remarkably free of clutter. The files, books, newspapers and magazines are elsewhere. At her office, she only meets people, and focuses just on them. More:

Hamish McDonald set to roll out his Ambani sequel

Varun Sood and Satish John in Mint:

It was the most controversial book about an Indian business family not to be read in the 1990s. And the author, Hamish McDonald, is hoping that he has better luck with the sequel, Mahabharata in Polyester: The making of the world’s richest brothers and their feud.

New Delhi-based publisher Roli Books Pvt. Ltd is to publish the book, a fact confirmed by the firm’s director Priya Kapoor.

McDonald, a former Far Eastern Economic Review journalist who was based in India, started work on what was to become The Polyester Prince, a book on the late Dhirubhai Ambani, with the sanction of the Ambani family.

The author and the family, however, differed on the approach and the book became an “unauthorized” biography of sorts. It was published internationally by Allen and Unwin Pty. Ltd (Australia) in September 1999, and HarperCollins secured the India rights for it.

The Ambanis didn’t think the book would do them any good and approached a court in India against it. The court sent a notice to HarperCollins, which admitted before it that the firm had no intention of publishing the book in India. Contrary to popular perception, there was (and is) no ban on the book.

Internationally too, rights to the book—a less than modest success—reverted to McDonald. In the mid-2000s, the book’s fortunes saw a revival of sorts in India with pirated copies of it becoming available at traffic lights and on pavements in New Delhi and Mumbai for anything between `50 and `500. More

Nita Ambani on IPL and cricket

Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries Limited chief Mukesh Ambani and co-owner of Mumbai Indians, has been the driving force behind the team, right from picking up young talent from Ranji teams to travelling and celebrating with the boys. In conversation with Indian Express Editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta:

SG: You said you really learnt a lot from them.

Nita Ambani: Yes. I think sports is the greatest unifier and leveller. You look at the humility that Sachin has, in spite of achieving so much, and how dedicated he is to this game. Every time I would talk to the team before we went on the field, all I would say was give it your best and enjoy yourself and cherish every moment on the field because that’s what Sachin does. At 37, he has the energy of a 20-year-old. It’s amazing. He would be practising at the nets for three hours in the morning.

I believe you really wanted to win this one.

Nita Ambani: Yes, I wanted to. We all wanted to. But then, you may want some things but you have to be happy that you have achieved so much. We were the table toppers all through.

You have some very young people in your team.

Nita Ambani: Yes. There are amazing stories to tell about each one of them. Saurabh Tiwary comes from Jharkhand and they call him the left-handed Dhoni–he is a hard-hitter. When we celebrated Sachin’s birthday one day before the finals, everyone had something to say to Sachin. So, Saurabh goes up and says: “Paaji, main aapke liye kya bolun? Aapne jitney saal cricket ko diyein hain, I’m not even that old. I am only 20 years old.” I thought that was heartwarming. Then we have Aditya Thare who is a fisherman’s son from Palghar. He is a wicket-keeper and he played for Mumbai Indians against Rajasthan Royals. He took 23 runs out of those 13 balls. His father used to ferry him to Bombay in a boat so that he could learn cricket. And Aditya is so confident. He is a wordsmith–he weaves poetry with words, in English. He writes beautifully. And he is just 20. More:

Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani bids for Liverpool Football

From The Times:

Liverpool emerged as a takeover target for the seventh-richest man in the world last night as the pressure mounted on Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr to cut a deal to sell Anfield.

Mukesh Ambani, the wealthiest man in India, is one of two tycoons from the sub-continent competing to buy a stake in the Merseyside club.

The Sahara Group’s chairman, Subrata Roy, and Ambani’s Reliance Industries have each tendered similar bids to pay off Liverpool’s £237 million debt in return for a 51 per cent stake in the club.

Last night Christian Purslow, the Liverpool chief executive, denied any knowledge of either bid, but The Times understands that approaches began as early as November and that some preliminary talks have taken place.More:

Update: Liverpool have denied that there has been any contact with either of the two Indian businessmen linked with buying a 51% stake in the club.

India’s 100 richest

Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani has emerged the wealthiest person in India — a net worth of $32 billion — on Forbes’ list of 100 Richest Indians.

Says Forbes: “The combined fortune of India’s 100 richest is $276 billion, almost one-fourth the country’s GDP. That is well below the total worth of $775 billion for the 100 richest Americans, but well ahead of the equivalent sum for China’s top 100. Although China has more billionaires–79 vs. India’s 52–India’s wealthiest are worth over $100 billion more than the $170 billion total net worth of their Chinese counterparts.”

London-based steel baron Lakshmi N Mittal with $30 billion, Anil Ambani with $17.5 billion, Azim Premji with $14.9 billion, Shashi and Ravi Ruia with $13.6 billion and KP Singh with $13.5 billion make up the top five billionaires on this year’s list.

1. Mukesh Ambani

2. Lakshmi Mittal

3. Anil Ambani

4. Azim Premji

5. Shashi & Ravi Ruia

6. Kushal Pal Singh

7. Savitri Jindal

8. Sunil Mittal

9. Kumar Birla

10.Gautam Adani

[Full list here]

Full story in Forbes

Brotherly shove

Joe Leahy in the Financial Times on the dispute between Asia’s richest siblings, the Ambani brothers:

Anil and Mukesh Ambani

Anil and Mukesh Ambani

Murli Deora, India’s oil minister, normally relaxes by playing bridge at the weekend with his wife and friends. But in recent weeks, a rather less genteel contest than that has been intruding on his free time.

Mr Deora was a close confidant of Dhirubhai Ambani, the rags-to-riches entrepreneur who built his Reliance polyester group into a corporate titan but died in 2002 without leaving a will. This sparked a succession war between his sons Anil and Mukesh, now Asia’s richest siblings.

Dropping into Mr Deora’s Mumbai home one weekend in June after his customary jog on the seafront, Anil Ambani complained to “uncle” about how he believed Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries was trying to corner the spoils of the KG Basin, a giant gas field discovered by the group off India’s east coast in 2000, says a person familiar with the matter.

Late last month, frustrated by suspicions that the minister was siding with his brother in the dispute, Anil Ambani went public. He used the podium of the annual meeting of one of his companies, Reliance Natural Resources, to lambast Mukesh’s Reliance Industries and the oil ministry.

The nationally televised onslaught – and the release of an earlier letter to Manmohan Singh, prime minister, that contained the same allegations – sent reverberations through the halls of power in New Delhi and has elevated the long-running Ambani succession war into an issue of national importance. More:

Mama’s boys

Some of India’s most successful businessmen, politicians and entertainers hear and heed their mothers’ advice daily. Heather Timmons in The New York Times:

Relationships are changing rapidly in modern, urbanized India: extended families are giving way to nuclear ones, women are joining the work force after school rather than heading straight for marriage, and Western habits like dating are becoming more common. But one bond seems to remain as strong as ever – the doting relationship between Indian mothers and their sons.

Some of this country’s most successful businessmen, politicians and entertainers receive maternal counsel daily – and follow it. For example, some political analysts say they believe that Mrs. Gandhi, a politician herself, is fueling her son’s anti-Muslim views. Matriarchs with little formal business experience sit on the boards of industrial giants.

More:

Four Indians on Forbes’ richest CEOs list

Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani has been ranked the third-richest chief executive in the world in a list of 10 wealthiest CEOs compiled by Forbes magazine. Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, Anil Ambani and Sunil Mittal are the other Indians in the list.

Warren Buffett is the richest (value of stake $35.9 billion)

Mukesh Ambani / Reliance Industries: Value of stake $16.8 billion

Lakshmi Mittal / ArcelorMittal: Value of stake $13.2 billion

Anil Ambani / Reliance Communications, Reliance Power, Reliance Capital, Reliance Natural Resources: Value of stakes $9 billion

Sunil Mittal / Bharti Airtel: Value of stake $6.9 billion

Click here for the Forbes story

The 40 richest Indians

Lakshmi Mittal is no longer the richest Indian in the world. According to the latest list out by Forbes, that position now goes to Mukesh Ambani (photo). But the global financial crisis has hit the subcontinent hard — with the wealthiest Indians being 60 per cent less wealthy than they were a year ago. Naazneen Karmali has the story in Forbes.

mukesh1

These are painful times for India’s richest as the ongoing global turmoil drastically reshapes their fortunes. The country’s once soaring stock market fell 48% in the 12 months, the rupee depreciated 24% against the dollar and gross domestic product growth is expected to slow down to 7.5%, partly owing to double-digit inflation.

All of this conspired to knock 60% off the combined fortunes of the nation’s 40 wealthiest. Their total net worth fell $212 billion, to $139 billion, down from $351 billion a year ago.

Last year’s No. 1, U.K. resident Lakshmi Mittal, dropped $30.5 billion amid plunging steel prices, but he slips only a bit, to No. 2. Mukesh Ambani, who oversees petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries, grabs the top spot for the first time, despite losing $28.2 billion in the past year. His estranged brother, Anil, ranked third, is the biggest dollar loser, down $32.5 billion.

more

The excesses of the filthy rich

In The Times, a report on the big spenders. Among them we spotted a few names from this part of the world. Read on:

Only the Indians can match the Russians in the spending marathon. Their preferred stakes are buildings and weddings. Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s richest man, has bought the nation’s most expensive home, a £117m mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens, from Noam Gottesman, 47, the Israeli-American financier. Mittal also owns the previous most expensive house in Britain, on the same road, which he picked up for £70m. The Indian steel boss blew £34m on a six-day wedding party in Paris for his daughter, Vanisha. It was held at the Palace of Versailles, and Kylie Minogue gave a private performance for 1,000 guests, who drank their way through 5,000 bottles of vintage champagne.

Not to be outdone, India’s richest man, the metals-to-mobiles entrepreneur Mukesh Ambani, whose £43 billion puts him in the top five in the global wealth list, is building the most extravagant private home since William Randolph Hearst built Hearst Castle: a £500m, 60-storey, twin-tower skyscraper on Mumbai’s harbour front. Six floors will be devoted to his 168 imported cars, and there will be a private health centre, an entire floor for entertaining, three floors of Babylon-inspired hanging gardens and three rooftop helipads. About 600 staff will run the gleaming mini-city on the hill.

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India’s billionaire heiresses

Daughters of three Indian tycoons the Forbes list of The World’s Billionaire Heiresses (To Be): Vanisha Mittal, Isha Ambani and Pia Singh, daughters of Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani and K P Singh respectively.

No. 1: Vanisha Mittal Bhatia, daughter of Lakshmi Mittal, $45 billion

The second child and only daughter of the world’s fourth-richest man, Vanisha serves on the board of directors of her father’s $103 billion (market cap) company, ArcelorMittal.

No. 2: Isha Ambani, Daughter of Mukesh Ambani, $43 billion

The only daughter of the world’s fifth-richest man, Isha, 16, already holds a stake worth about $80 million in Reliance Industries, the petrochemicals giant her father runs.

No. 3: Pia Singh, Daughter of K.P. Singh, $30 billion

A graduate of Wharton School, Singh pursued a six-week filmmaking course at NYU and later worked in the risk-underwriting department at GE Capital. She now works for her father’s DLF group.

Click here for the full list:

The emperor strikes back

The latest on the war between the world’s richest brothers, Mukesh and Anil Ambani. In Tehelka, Veeshal Bakshi reports that Mukesh Ambani is pushing his agenda to silence Anil’s friends.

As Mukesh Ambani visited the Prime Minister’s Office and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s home on Monday to counter demands by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh that would surely hurt his busness, it was clear that the Reliance Industries chairman wouldn’t easily let the government take sides in his latest feud with his younger brother Anil.

As the elder Ambani pressed flesh in the capital’s corridors of power, the buzz was that Anil now has a hotline to the Gandhi residence at 10, Janpath, thanks to his close links with Amar Singh and his party. Mukesh had dashed to New Delhi in his private jet after Amar Singh announced that his party would pressure the government to levy ‘windfall tax’ on private oil refineries that have gained unexpected wealth following the global oil price rise. If such a tax were indeed announced, it would directly hit RIL’s plans to set up the world’s biggest refinery complex in India.

The Ambani brothers — whose gigantic businesses together account for five per cent of India’s economic output — have come a long way since the 1990s, when they jointly worked the corridors of power under the leadership of their father, Dhirubhai, to demolish one business rival after another.

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An Indian tycoon’s tale

India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is shaping his country via capitalism, with echoes of Mohandas Gandhi. Anand Giridharadas in The New York Times:

At a recent cricket match here, Mukesh D. Ambani sat in his private box quietly watching the team he owns, the Mumbai Indians. He seemed oblivious to the others around him: his son cheering wildly, his wife draped in diamond jewelry and a smattering of guests anxiously awaiting the briefest opportunity to speak with him.

A minor bureaucrat stood a few rows back, strategizing with aides about how to buttonhole “the Chairman,” as Mr. Ambani is sometimes called. Waiters in baggy tuxedoes took turns trying to offer him a snack, but as they drew near became too nervous to speak.

In the last century, Mohandas K. Gandhi was India’s most famous and powerful private citizen. Today, Mr. Ambani is widely regarded as playing that role, though in a very different way. Like Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Ambani belongs to a merchant caste known as the modh banias, is a vegetarian and a teetotaler and is a revolutionary thinker with bold ideas for what India ought to become.

[Photo: Mukesh Ambani with his daughter, Isha, at a cricket match of the Mumbai Indians, which he owns. NYTimes]

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The world’s costliest home? Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai skyscraper

Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey, $2 billion, vaastu-compliant skyscraper, Antilla in downtown Mumbai, when completed, will be the world’s costliest residence. Matt Woolsey has the story in Forbes.

While visiting New York in 2005, Nita Ambani was in the spa at the Mandarin Oriental New York, overlooking Central Park. The contemporary Asian interiors struck her just so, and prompted her to inquire about the designer.

Nita Ambani was no ordinary tourist. She is married to Mukesh Ambani, head of Mumbai-based petrochemical giant Reliance Industries, and the fifth richest man in the world. ( Lakshmi Mittal, ranked fourth, is an Indian citizen, but a resident of the U.K.)

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Take a tour of the world’s costliest home in pictures here.

Indians continue to rock the Forbes billionaire list

The Forbes list of billionaires is just out and the Indian billionaire club is thriving. Although China has the most number of new billionaires on The List (28), the wealth amassed by Indian billionaires is more than 3.5 times that of those in China.

India, incidentally, has 19 newbies on The List — with at least one (Sameer Gehlaut of India Bulls) below the age of 40.

And, finally, India has retained its position as Asia’s biggest source of billionaires — 53 of them with a combined wealth of $340.9 billion. India’s Fab Four — Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani and K.P. Singh — retain their place in The List’s T20 (top 20).

Check out the complete list, edited by Luisa Kroll at Forbes:

After 13 years on top, Bill Gates is no longer the richest man in the world. That honor now belongs to his friend and sometimes bridge partner Warren Buffett.
Riding the surging price of Berkshire Hathaway stock, Buffett has seen his fortune swell to an estimated $62 billion, up $10 billion from a year ago.

Gates is now worth $58 billion and is ranked third richest in the world. He is up $2 billion from a year ago, but would have been as rich–or richer–than Buffett, had Microsoft not made an unsolicited bid for Yahoo! at the beginning of February. Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helú now ranks as the world’s second richest person with a net worth of $60 billion.

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India’s most powerful people

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In its annual power list, India Today mixes new names with old to come up with a list of those who matter most in the creation of a new India. Some of the names, Ratan Tata (at #1) and Mukesh Ambani (#2) are now standard bearers on the list. Anil Ambani inches his way up to #3.

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Media barons continue to matter. Brothers Samir and Vineet Jain (#9) of the Times of India group, Raghav Bahl (#18) of TV18 and Prannoy and Radhika Roy (#22) of NDTV continue to be on The List, while Ronnie Screwvala (#24) of UTV is the new entrant.

Other names debuting on the list include former President APJ Abdul Kalam (#7), K.V. Kamath (#13), managing director of India’s largest private bank ICICI and Lalit Modi (#29), BCCI’s powerful vice president and the creator of the Indian Premier League.

Film stars continue to make the list with Shah Rukh Khan (#6) way ahead of Amitabh Bachchan (#16), Rajnikant (#28) and Aamir Khan (#38). And cricket, the other religion of India along with films, rules with Sachin Tendulkar (#25) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (#35).

For a complete look at who’s on the list, and why, click here.

Fab four CEOs score at Forbes wealth chart

Economic Times has the PTI agency story on its front page

STEEL tycoon Lakshmi Niwas Mittal and the Ambani brothers are among the 10 wealthiest CEOs in the world, according to Forbes. Mr Mittal is ranked the second-wealthiest CEO, followed by Mukesh Ambani (6th), Anil Ambani (7th) and Wipro chief Azim Premji (9th). Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett tops the list with a fortune of $52 billion. Arcelor Mittal chief LN Mittal has a net worth of $32 billion, while Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani have fortunes of $20.1 billion and $18.2 billion, respectively. Chief of IT bellwether Wipro Azim Premji has a net worth of $17.1 billion.

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Family feud, India style

Asia Sentinel

Prosperity gets in the way of family and corporate relationships, writes Raju Bist

In the mid-1990s, when the Birla family, which ran India’s second-largest business group, was in the midst of a bitter division of assets, one young family member quipped that “blood is thicker than water. But profits are thicker than blood.” A decade later, the country’s fast-rising prosperity is causing even more confrontations.

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