Gautam Adani, the richest man in Asia

Chairman and founder of the Adani Group, Gautam Adani specialises in commodities trading and infrastructure. With a fortune of 97.6 billion dollars, the Indian billionaire once again became the richest man in Asia this year. Here’s a look back at his career.


Eclipsing Indian businessman Mukesh Ambani in first place, businessman Gautam Adani has become the richest man in Asia in 2024, with a fortune of 97.6 billion dollars. Starting from nothing, the Chairman and founder of the Adani firm has seen his capital explode in recent years, while at the same time being the subject of much controversy. Focus.


From diamonds to a global group


Born in 1962 in the city of Ahmedabad, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Gautam Adani came from a middle-class family of eight children. His father was a textile merchant. At the age of 18, the young Gautam left for Bombay to work as a junior in the diamond industry. In the early 80s, he joined his brother in the plastics company the latter had set up. He quickly took over as head of operations and developed the company in a sector that was booming at the time: plastics and new related materials such as PVC. The group later diversified into metals and textiles.


In 1995, Gautam Adani’s career took a new turn. The businessman entered the port business. He won the contract to build and operate the commercial port of Mundra, on the Arabian Sea, which became the country’s leading commercial port. At the same time, he expanded into electricity, coal and renewable energy.



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In 2003, Indian statesman Narendra Modi granted the company authorisation to create a special economic zone, exempt in particular from common tax rules. Thanks to this favour, his fortune continues to grow.


Specialising in import-export, it is a reference in petroleum products, coal and agricultural products, particularly fruit, and is also India’s biggest importer of coal. Building coal-fired power stations, buying up mines, speculating in real estate, buying up ports and airports, foraying into data centres and copper refining, investing in the media… Gautam Adani’s group is undergoing spectacular expansion that seems to stop at nothing. However, it has come in for heavy criticism from environmentalists over its environmental impact. But it is also briefly at the centre of a financial scandal.



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Over-indebtedness and fraud scandals forgotten


While Adani Enterprises, in which the billionaire holds a 75% stake, boosted its growth by more than 2,400% between March 2020 and the end of 2022, Fitch Group’s CreditSights reported at the time that the group was “deeply over-leveraged”. The research firm went on to say that “in the worst-case scenario, over-ambitious debt-financed growth plans could end up as a colossal debt trap, eventually leading to distress or default”.


In 2023, the Hindenburg Fund, which specialises in short selling, published a report accusing Gautam Adani of accounting fraud, providing false information and making high-risk investments. As a result of these accusations, against a backdrop of malfunctions and general overvaluation, the group lost tens of billions of dollars, despite denials.


But the scandal was short-lived. A few months later, the Indian Supreme Court rejected a request to extend the investigation into the Hindenburg allegations. At the time, it had indicated that the existing investigations conducted by the market regulators were sufficient and correct. The share price of the firm headed by Gautam Adani then rose again, as did his personal fortune.



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In the first week of 2024, the businessman’s fortune grew by 7.7 billion dollars, reaching 97.6 billion dollars according to the Bloomberg index. This growth enabled the businessman to be crowned the richest man in Asia this year, overtaking Mukesh Ambani, another Indian tycoon who runs Reliance Industries, a firm specialising in the petrochemical industry.


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Featured photo : © Business Wire

Fashion, hotels, gastronomy, jewelry, beauty, design... Pauline Duvieu is a journalist specializing in luxury and the art of living. Passionate about the high-end spheres that arouse emotion, she loves to describe the creations of the houses and tell the stories of the talents she meets.


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