Mukesh Ambani joined an exclusive club last week. His net worth topped $100 billion, according to the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List, as shares of his Reliance Industries soared more than 30% this year.
Ambani is only the tenth person on the global rankings to join the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos with a twelve-digit net worth. He’s currently ranked No. 10 with a fortune estimated at $101.4 billion.
The majority of Ambani’s wealth is derived from his stake in Reliance, the oil-refining and petrochemicals business he inherited in 2002 from his father, Dhirubhai Ambani, which has since built it into a vast conglomerate that spans petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecom and retail. (Disclosure: Reliance Industries owns Network18, which publishes Forbes India.)
Ambani’s re-entry into the telecom industry in 2016 came through his Reliance Jio, which is now the largest mobile operator in terms of the number of subscribers. Jio has also recently developed a made-for-India smartphone in partnership with Google.
At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in June, Ambani outlined an ambitious plan to will transform its legacy power business with a push into green energy, committing more than $10 billion over three years. Reliance intends to to set up four giga factories to make solar photovoltaic modules, energy storage batteries, electrolyzer and fuel cell. The company plans to have 100 GW of solar energy by 2030.
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Ambani also said at the same meeting that Reliance raised $44.4 billion, the largest-ever capital raise by any company in a year. The funds were raised through share sales in Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, rights issues to existing shareholders and asset monetization. Jio Platforms is the group’s digital business, which holds its telecom unit. The investors included marquee private equity players such as TPG, General Atlantic and KKR as well as technology giants including Facebook and Google.
“This capital raise,” Ambani told the shareholders in June, “is a strong vote of confidence by global investors in India’s growth potential. It reflects their faith in the ability of your company’s management to execute ambitious projects and long-term value creation plans.”
Reliance was founded by Dhirubhai in 1966 as a small textile manufacturer. He expanded over time and built Reliance Industries into a fabrics, textiles and energy empire. After their father’s death in 2002, Mukesh and his brother Anil divided up the family’s empire. Members of the third generation are also involved in the businesses.