SEPTEMBER 16, 2022
The jostling among the world’s richest humans intensified Friday as three men rotated through the No. 2 spot in the span of 24 hours, highlighting the volatility of the markets and meteoric rise of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani on a list long dominated by tech titans.
On Friday morning, Adani edged out French business magnate Bernard Arnault and pushed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos down to the No. 4 spot on Forbes’s real-time billionaire rankings. The shake-up didn’t end there, however, Adani fell to No. 3, ahead of Bezos, by the afternoon.
By 5 p.m. Friday, Arnault was worth $154.7 billion, Adani $152.2 billion, and Bezos $146.9 billion. Staggering numbers by any measure, but well behind the $273.2 billion fortune of Elon Musk.
As chair of the Adani Group, a multinational conglomerate, Adani’s portfolio of companies and investments spans coal mining, data centers, airports and renewable energy. And his wealth has soared over the past year, just as the value of the largest American tech companies has slipped alongside much of Wall Street’s biggest names.
Here’s what you need to know about Adani:
How did Adani’s wealth rise so fast?
Shares of Adani’s network of companies have skyrocketed this year as energy prices have swelled and he’s poured billions into solidifying a foothold in renewable energy. But even as Adani plans to invest heavily in green energy, in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to transform India into a hub for new types of fuel, much of the conglomerate’s revenue comes from fossil fuels, Bloomberg reports, drawing criticism of “greenwashing.”
In a matter of months, Adani’s fortune has exploded as energy demand surged and investors flocked to his businesses. In February he became the richest person in Asia. Adani, who started the year as No. 14 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has more than doubled his net worth, blazing past such top-tier billionaires as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
What is Adani’s background?
Adani’s empire first grew out of a plastics importing business in the 1980s, and expanded into port operations and global trade. His umbrella of companies continued to diversify, with business units managing airports, mining coal and distributing city gas networks.
Shares of Adani Enterprises, the flagship company, rose to an all-time high Thursday, more than doubling in value since the beginning of the year, at the equivalent of more than $52 billion. And shares in Adani Power, the power generation company, have nearly quadrupled since the start of 2022.
One of his latest endeavors is a $70 billion push into clean energy. “Cooling the planet down — equitably — is necessary and can be one of the most profitable businesses over the next several decades,” Adani told a meeting of the U.S.-India Business Council earlier this month.
Who else is on the list?
Musk sits at the top of the billionaire rankings. He co-founded six companies, most notably the electric car manufacturer Tesla and rocket company SpaceX.
Arnault is the co-founder and chief executive of the beauty, fashion and luxury goods empire LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Sephora, Dom Pérignon and Fenty Beauty by Rihanna.
Bezos, whose reign as the world’s richest man was put to an end after Musk was enriched by Tesla’s breathtaking stock run in 2020, is best known for Amazon, the tech behemoth whose operations span e-commerce, cloud computing, streaming and more. He also owns the aerospace company Blue Origin and The Washington Post.
Rounding out the top 10 are Gates, $104.6 billion; Larry Ellison, $96.8 billion; Warren Buffett, $95.9 billion; Mukesh Ambani, $91.4 billion; Larry Page, $88.8 billion; and Sergey Brin, $85.2 billion.