Indian tycoon Gautam Adani has been named the world’s third richest person with an estimated wealth of $137 billion (£117 billion) and becomes the first Asian person to break into the top three richest in the world.
Adani, 60, who founded mining-to-energy conglomerate Adani Group after leaving college, was ranked third on the daily updated Bloomberg Billionaires Index on Tuesday.
According to the index, his net worth has increased by $61 billion so far this year as the market value of many of his companies has risen. Many of his companies are involved in natural gas, coal mining and electricity generation and have likely benefited from the rise in energy prices worldwide.
Adani took third after a leap forward from Bernard Arnault, the French billionaire who owns the bulk of LVMH’s luxury brand portfolio. Arnault’s fortune has fallen $42 billion so far this year to $136 billion. All of the top 10 billionaires except Adani have experienced a decline in their net worth this year – after huge gains during the pandemic.
The only people richer than Adani are Tesla boss Elon Musk with an estimated net worth of $251 billion and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos with $153 billion.
Adani’s conglomerate owns India’s largest private seaport and airport operator, as well as a massive coal mine in Queensland, Australia. The company has been criticized for its environmental impact on the Great Barrier Reef and its use of billions of gallons of water each year.
Last year, it pledged to invest $70 billion in green energy and become the world’s largest producer of renewable energy.
Some critics suggest that Adani has benefited financially from his close relationship with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
In 2018, when six Indian airports lined up for privatization, Modi relaxed the rules to allow companies with no experience in running airports to bid on them. Adani’s company bought all six of them and became the largest airport operator in the country.
The finance minister of the state of Kerala described it as an “act of brutal favoritism”.