India's richest getting poorer, says Forbes

Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:55am EDT
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By Henry Foy

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's richest are getting poorer, according to Forbes, as falling stock prices, corruption scandals in Asia's third-largest economy and a global slowdown wiped 20 percent off the total value of the country's 100 wealthiest in the last year.

Mukesh Ambani, head of Reliance Industries, India's most valuable company, retained the top spot with a value of $22.6 billion, despite seeing his net worth drop by $4.4 billion.

In the same period, Ambani completed construction of a 27-storey house in Mumbai, costing an estimated $1 billion.

The biggest loser in the list was Ambani's younger brother, Anil, whose net worth stood at $5.9 billion, down from $13.3 billion. His Reliance Group companies have been some of the worst performers on the Mumbai bourse this year.

A major drag for Ambani has been telecom firm Reliance Communications, which has $7.5 billion in debt and has so far failed in efforts to ease debt and raise money.

The combined wealth of India's richest 100 people fell to $241 billion in 2011, according to the Forbes India Rich List, which includes 57 dollar billionaires, a dozen less than a year earlier.

"This has been a turbulent year for India's richest," Naazneen Karmali, India Editor of Forbes Asia, said in a statement.

"Despite the economy growing at close to 8 percent, a spate of corruption scandals and rising inflation have taken a toll."   Continued...