Red-hot oil prices and a deal between two of India’s biggest retail players helped push up Mukesh Ambani’s fortune by $2.8 billion on Monday, even as broader global markets reeled.
Shares of sprawling conglomerate Reliance Industries, which counts energy as its biggest revenue driver, soared more than 3% Monday as recovering oil prices lifted energy stocks in India, one of the world’s top oil producers. The boost was especially good to Reliance Chair Mukesh Ambani, adding about $2.8 billion to his fortune and helping the 64-year-old surpass infrastructure billionaire Gautam Adani to reclaim the title of richest person in India—and Asia.
As of Monday evening, Ambani is the world’s tenth richest person, worth about $89.7 billion, Forbes estimates, while Adani is worth roughly $87.8 billion–and ranked the world’s 11th richest.
Adding to the good news for Reliance, Reuters on Sunday reported the firm would acquire at least 200 stores from struggling supermarket chain Future Retail to expand its footprint as India’s biggest retailer. The major win follows a two-year legal battle with Future investor Amazon over Reliance’s proposed $3.4 billion deal to acquire significant portions of Future’s largely unprofitable business. Since late 2020, the e-commerce monolith has argued the deal violates contractual terms tied to its investments—even though Future is counting on the cash to help pay back a defaulted loan.
“The ongoing litigation initiated by Amazon in October 2020… has created serious impediments” and resulted in a “severe adverse impact” on the company, CP Toshniwal, the chief financial officer of Future, told India’s stock exchange in a letter on Saturday, saying he was “hopeful” the $3.4 billion deal with Reliance would finally go through before the offer expires in September. According to Reuters, Reliance will rebrand the Future stores, which will still have about 1,500 locations, under its flagship supermarket chain Big Bazaar. Shares of Future Retail jumped 6% Monday.
Founded by Ambani’s late father Dhirubhai Ambani in 1966 as a small textile manufacturer, Reliance has since grown into India’s largest company—boasting revenue of $73.8 billion (539,238 crore Indian rupees) last year—thanks to interests in petrochemicals, telecom, oil and retail. Ambani took control of the family business following his father’s death in 2002. He and his family still hold a roughly 49% stake in the firm.
Despite the massive boost to Ambani’s fortune, one billionaire managed to get even richer on Monday. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, added $14.4 billion to his fortune Monday as shares of the electric-vehicle firm soared 7.5%. Following a steep nearly 40% plunge in Tesla shares this year, Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi sparked the Monday surge by telling investors Tesla’s “unique growth profile” stood out among high-priced technology stocks. Musk is now worth $236.8 billion—nearly $60 billion more than the world’s second-richest person, Bernard Arnault.