STREET SMART
The market’s incessant rise has encouraged companies to raise funds from the public

URGE TO SPLURGE
Have money, will spend seems to be the motto of the elite

A CHECK ON PAY
Who got the biggest raises? Which company was most generous?

SHAKERS BUT NOT MARKET MOVERS
The ones who did not have to tap the market to get the numbers

BILLIONAIRE CLUB
A definitive list of India Inc’s richest

HIGHEST PAY PACKETS
List of the best paymasters

METHODOLOGY AND INDEX
How we estimated wealth and earnings of billionaires

BILLIONAIRE CLUB 2006
BILLIONAIRE CLUB 2005

HOME

A Tide of billionaires

Eight years ago, when Business Standard compiled for the first time a list of the wealthiest people in India, there were 18 people whose net worth was more than Rs 1,000 crore each. The number has gone up to 155 now. And 48 Indians now have wealth of over Rs 4,000 crore, making them dollar billionaires. In 1999, there were only three.

One of the main reasons for this phenomenal increase in wealth is the unprecedented boom on the stock market since these people’s wealth is calculated on the basis of their holdings of company stock. As our cover story shows, as many as 46 turned billionaires by initial public offerings alone. In a way, the year 2006-07 was also the year of the landlord as the top seven of these 46 are real estate developers.

The success of Corporate India has also been built on the belief that inherited wealth is no longer the only way to become a billionaire. Read in this issue the extraordinary sub-plots which involve people like Sudip Datta who started his career 18 years ago at a monthly salary of Rs 450. Datta and family are worth Rs 847 crore now, thanks to their 65 per cent stake in newly listed Ess Dee Aluminium.

The real story, therefore, is about India’s growing entrepreneurial class and the fresh blood that you see in its ranks. While owning the business is still the best way to become a billionaire, our report on crorepati CEOs shows that their tribe is also zooming, with India Inc opening its purse strings like never before to win the talent war.

In fact, the number of senior executives earning more than Rs 2 crore has almost doubled. This issue has also taken a close look at the fascinating story of those who have preferred to remain in the unlisted zone. These include a sprinkling of astute businessmen, celebrity actors, brokers, painters and media tycoons.

Finally, what on earth are our billionaires doing with their money? A lot, actually. And it’s not Mukesh Ambani alone who is splurging on a 27-floor home with space for 150 cars. As our report on the spending habits of the super rich shows, little-known transport operator Vijayanand Roadlines also isn’t far behind. At the Bangalore airshow, it treated itself to four aircraft costing $21 million.

India’s billionaires have had an extraordinarily good year, with fascinating strands to the overall weave of wealth. Happy reading!

Business Standard December 2007