//India now has 36 billionaires, led by Mittal and Ambanis

India now has 36 billionaires, led by Mittal and Ambanis

Indo-Asian News Service

New York, March 9, 2007

As many as 36 Indians figure on the coveted list of the world's richest people compiled annually by Forbes magazine, led by steel tycoon LN Mittal, with 14 new entrants from the country joining the billionaire club.

Mittal is ranked fifth with a net worth of $32 billion, while brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani are ranked 14th and 18th with personal wealth of $20.1 billion and $18.2 billion, respectively, says the list released by the magazine.

"India's rich are marching toward the top of our rankings," Forbes said. "After a 20-year reign, Japan is no longer Asia's top spot for billionaires: India has 36, worth $191 billion followed by Japan, with 24 worth a combined $64 billion."

"India now has three in the upper echelons, second only to the US," the magazine said, referring to Mittal, and the Ambani brothers, who are now among the top 20 billionaires in the world. Wipro's Azim Premji is ranked 21st with 17.1 billion.

"Strong equity markets combined with rising real estate values and commodity prices pushed up fortunes from Mumbai to Madrid," says the magazine, adding that the combined net worth of all billionaires jumped $900 billion to $3.5 trillion.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates continues to be the richest person in the world for 13th year in succession with a net worth of $56 billion, among the list of 946 billionaires prepared by the magazine.

The other Indians on the list include DLF's KP Singh, ranked 62nd with $10 billion, Sunil Mittal's family (69th with $9.5 billion), Kumar Mangalam Birla and Essar's Ruia brothers (both 86th with $8 billion).

Also on the list are Unitech's Ramesh Chandra, investor Pallonji Mistry and Adi Godrej's family.

Gibraltar-based Anurag Dikshit, an engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, who is now an online gambling mogul is featured as a young billionaire at 35 and ranked 618th with $1.6 billion.

Presenting some interesting statistics, the magazine says the average age of the billionaires is 62 years now, two years younger than in 2005. Also, this year's new billionaires are seven years younger than the average.

Two-thirds of this year's billionaires are richer and only 17 per cent are poorer with 32 failing to make to the billion-dollar club. The 178 new entrants include 19 Russians, 14 Indians, 13 Chinese and 10 Spaniards, as also first billionaires from Cyprus, Oman, Romania and Serbia.