FE Editorial : When the going gets tough

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Oct 29 2011, 08:15am hrs
With the Sensex falling 11% in the last one year, its easy to see why Indias rich in the Forbes list should lose as much as $241 billion of their wealth; in sectors like real estate and metals, the fall is even sharper (48% and 27%, respectively). The real story of the wealthier and the wealthiest, however, is more about reiterating the larger rewards of focusing on businesswhile the combined wealth of Indias richest 100 persons fell by $241 billion in 2011, the 14 newcomers who made it to the list are

collectively worth $11.3 billion. At a time when airline companies in the country are all posting losses, father and son duo Kapil

and Rahul Bhatia have made it to the list on the strength of their low-cost airline IndiGos huge successVijay Mallyas wealth has fallen from $1.45 billion to $1.11 billion (rank from 44 to 49) and Naresh Goyals from $1.2 billion to $435 million (rank from 52 to 96). VG Siddhartha, similarly, has made it to the list on the back of Cafe Coffee Days 1,200-strong store chain.

In the case of Mukesh Ambani, Indias richest man with a net worth of $22.6 billion, the 16% fall in his wealth is roughly in keeping with the fall in the oil and gas indexthe disappointing performance of the KG basin gas fields is largely responsible for this. Anil Ambanis 56% fall in wealthwhich saw him getting knocked out of the 10-richest listcan be linked to the sharp fall in the energy index (30%), but it is the performance of his telecom company which has played a big role. Even as the telecom industrys fortunes plunged, Sunil Mittal saw his net worth rise to $8.8 billion and moved up from number 9 last year to number 6. Diversified group owner KM Birla saw his net worth fall just 9.4% while Adani wealth fell 23% and the Ruias 32%. DB Realtys Vinod Goenka and Shahid Balwas fall from grace, of course, can directly be linked to the 2G scam, though the 48% fall in the realty index also had a big rolethats why DLFs KP Singh has fallen from number 8 to 12.

An interesting case is that of Hero Motos Brijmohan Lall whose net worth rose in the year he broke up with Honda of Japan. Thats as much a tribute to the company he has built and nurtured as it is to the fact that the government role in the auto sectorunlike in sectors like power or oil & gasis very limited.