Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani overtook Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) founder Jack Ma (馬雲) to become Asia’s richest person as he positions Reliance to disrupt the e-commerce space in India.
The chairman of India’s refining-to-telecoms conglomerate, Ambani was estimated to be worth US$44.3 billion on Friday, with Reliance shares rising 1.6 percent to a record 1,099.8 rupees, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Ma’s wealth stood at US$44 billion at the close of trading on Friday in the US, where the company is listed.
Ambani has added US$4 billion to his fortune this year as Reliance doubled its petrochemicals capacity and investors cheered the success of his disruptive telecom upstart, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.
The tycoon earlier this month unveiled plans to leverage his 215 million telecom subscribers to expand his e-commerce offerings, taking on the likes of Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc.
Ma has lost US$1.4 billion this year.
Ambani, best known for executing large-scale projects, spearheaded construction of the world’s largest refining complex in Jamnagar, Gujarat State, owns the most widespread mobile data network globally and claims to have India’s biggest, as well as its most-profitable retail firm.
At this month’s annual shareholders’ meeting, Ambani said that Reliance saw its “biggest growth opportunity in creating a hybrid, online-to-offline new commerce platform,” involving the group’s Reliance Retail Ltd and Reliance Jio businesses.
The “size of Reliance will more than double” by 2025, Ambani told the meeting.
Jio is to introduce a fiber-based broadband service across 1,100 Indian cities next month in what Ambani said would be the biggest greenfield fixed-line rollout anywhere in the world.
Within a week of the announcements, Reliance re-entered the US$100 billion club, after more than a decade.
Ambani used the same venue two years ago to announce his disruptive telecom venture with free offers that eventually forced smaller rivals to quit and bigger ones to merge.
The billionaire inherited Reliance from his much-storied father, business tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani, who is credited with sparking an equity culture among middle-class Indians and using their savings to build the group’s textile and petrochemical manufacturing units.
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