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Ambani and Adani soar as Indian billionaires outpace Chinese peers

Beijing's antitrust crackdown stunts big tech leaders' wealth growth

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani is the wealthiest person in Asia and the 12th-richest in the world.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Indian billionaires have grown richer amid the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to the country's resilient stock market, outpacing Chinese technology tycoons taken down a notch by a government crackdown.

Mukesh Ambani, head of oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries and the richest person in Asia, has seen his net worth grow 11% so far this year to $85.1 billion as of Tuesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. This puts him in 12th place worldwide, ahead of such big Chinese names as Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma.

The net worth of Gautam Adani, founder of the Adani Group conglomerate, has nearly doubled from the start of 2021 to $65.9 billion, vaulting him to No. 15 on the list.

Both Indian billionaires have reaped the benefits of India's stock market rally, which has powered through a shocking Indian COVID-19 death toll in anticipation of the economy's eventual return to normal.

Coronavirus cases in India began surging in March, with new infections exceeding 400,000 per day in early May. While the daily tally has fallen to around 50,000, lockdowns remain in place in some areas

Indian tycoon Gautam Adani ranks 15th in Bloomberg's global billionaires list.

Yet the impact on stocks has been limited. The Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark Sensex index slipped below 50,000 for a time during the last wave, but is well above a low in the 20,000 range it reached when the first lockdowns were imposed in March 2020.

The index has notched record highs on some days, and individual stocks, including Reliance Industries, have put in solid showings.

Chinese figures on the Bloomberg list, such as Tencent Holdings CEO Pony Ma, have been less fortunate, as Beijing's antitrust clampdown on the tech industry clouds the earnings outlook for the sector.

Pony Ma's net worth has risen only about 5% so far this year, while Jack Ma has lost $2 billion.

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