Mukesh Ambani: The World's Next Richest Man?

The list of the world's billionaires is loaded with household names, from Bill Gates to Richard Branson, Carlos Slim to Warren Buffett. But one of the fastest up-and-coming international tycoons is a relative unknown: India's Mukesh Ambani.

That could soon change. According to Forbes, Ambani could be the richest man in the world by 2014. The 53-year old Indian mogul doesn't really have that far to go: with a personal fortune estimated at $29 billion, he is already the fourth wealthiest person in the world, behind Slim, Gates and Buffett. It also doesn't hurt that he is chairman, managing director, and the largest stockholder of fast-growing Reliance Industries, India's second-largest company with more than $44 billion in annual revenues.

Ambani's Climb to the Top

Started as a small textile business by Mukesh's father Dhirubhai Ambani in 1966, Reliance has expanded into a massive global conglomerate offering everything from petrochemicals to fabrics. The company's growth has been awe-inspiring: this year, it ranked 175th in Fortune's annual Global 500 list of the world's largest corporations, up from 264th place in 2009

With the price of petroleum likely to remain high and a strengthening economy in India fueling the stock market, Forbes asserts that Ambani's wealth will increase to $62 billion in just four years. Moreover, as economic instability continues to plague the U.S. and political instability continues to plague Mexico, Gates, Buffett and Slim all stand to lose ground as Ambani's star rises.

From left are: Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim; Microsoft chairman Bill Gates; Wall Street investor Warren Buffett; Oracle CEO Lawrence J. Ellison; Bernard Arnault, head of French luxury group LVMH; owner of the Zara clothing chain Amancio Ortega; chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani.

Ambani topped Forbes' list once before. In 2007, a bull run on the stock market sent Reliance's price soaring, briefly increasing Ambani's personal fortune to $63.2 billion. At the time, Carlos Slim -- the world's wealthiest man before the run -- was worth $62.3 billion, which pushed him into second place. While receding share value has sent Ambani back down to fourth place, it's reasonable to expect that his fortunes may rise again.

Ambani's steep ascent has been marred by some even steeper hurdles. After the death of Dhirubhai in 2002, Mukesh and his brother Anil Ambani fought very publicly over control of Reliance. In 2005, their mother split the conglomerate in two, forming two new companies: Reliance Industries and Reliance ADA Group. Each son took control of one of the new businesses, and the pair continued to fight until earlier this year, when they issued a truce in the form of a non-compete agreement, a move that most analysts agree will be profitable for both companies.

Rich Gestures

Beyond the sibling rivalry, Ambani also made headlines when, in 2009, he agreed to a 66% pay cut. The executive said he wanted to "set an example of personal moderation" after India's government called upon its citizens to be more austere. But even with a slashed salary, the mogul still took home an estimated $3.3 million, and his family's holdings in Reliance netted them $216 million in dividends.

By no means was Ambani roughing it. In addition to the Airbus 319 that he bought his wife in 2007, he is -- quite literally -- living large. His Mumbai home (pictured right), Antilia, is a 27-story tower that looks down on one of the poorest cities in the world. With more than 400,000 square feet, it is the world's largest home, and its price tag -- estimated to be between $1 billion and $2 billion -- makes it the world's most expensive.

Based on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world, Antilia has three helipads, a health spa, a 50-seat theater, and a ballroom. There is also room for plenty of visitors: six floors of the house are dedicated to parking, and another floor contains a full-service garage for maintaining Ambani's vehicles. A huge house requires a huge staff, but with an estimated 600 servants, Antilia's visitors should be well taken care of.

Of course, a lot can happen in four years and Ambani may not be the richest man in the world come 2014. But with economic growth in Asia propelling more Indians and Chinese into the middle class -- and the ranks of the world's billionaires -- the face of the world's wealth is decidedly changing.

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Ginny Crandall

This is incredible! I have never heard of this man, but that doesn't surprise me. I am set on building my own wealth, and letting others do the same. I love buying garden tools online ( ) and helping other people to do the same. It saves lots of money, which is helping me build wealth. I have other plans to build wealth, don't worry.

December 15 2011 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mike and Van, what is "funny" about the Rothchilds being left out? They are not a "public" family. All the other "billionaires" are but chump change next to the Rothchilds who could do them in at a snap of the finger. What nuclear weapons physical destruction can be imparted on nations, the Rothchilds can do to any nations economic systems. OBLITERATE them. Only one person in human history has ever stood up to the money changers in his country and returned from the dead to reveal how all they deal with is the accumulation of and controling dirt. (All money, currencies in their basic form is dirt. How sad, tragic, and ill they are. They love dirt more than their own life and the lives of their fellow man. In the end, that is all they inherit. DIRT. LAMENTABLE.

October 27 2011 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike and Van

isnt it funny they left out the ROTHCHILDS family?!!! they own and control all the major banks including the federal reserve , bank of england and many others in the WORLD! their net worth is estimated to be in the hundreds of TRILLIONS!!! look them up and find out for yourself. they dont want you to know about them. thats why you dont even see them EVEN LISTED IN THE BILLIONS!!!!hhmmm........ wonder why?!!!

October 26 2011 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why dont he donate some money to pepole losing homes and jobs

September 17 2010 at 9:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to philipdeltona's comment

That's your fault

October 31 2010 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mind your own business, or you won't be minding mine. (employer perspective)

September 17 2010 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

Mind your own business and you won't be minding mine.

September 17 2010 at 7:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is dispicable..........especially in a country as poor as India!

September 17 2010 at 6:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

you know what is so sad about the whole story?his tower over looks one of the poorest neighborhoods think of all the hungry people looking up at his mansion everyday wondering where there next dollar is going to come from to feed there child ?what a pathetic looser who cares if you made a billion or a million i hate to break everyones heart but when you die the money dont go with you if everyone cared about each other as much as they did money this world would a wonderful place to live....

September 17 2010 at 1:36 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The three richest men are self-made; Ambani is not. Furthermore, with all his wealth concentrated in an Indian company, he could easily lose about half his wealth tomorrow. I don't know what the purpose of this article was. Any of the top ten richest could be THE richest in 2014. Perhaps Ambani paid the guys at Forbes for some promotional material. That sounds about right.

September 17 2010 at 12:58 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to JDCochran's comment

HA HA I agree!

September 17 2010 at 1:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What are you trying to say? Indian companies are not that fickle you know. If it was, the US wouldn't go overseas to get their job done.

September 17 2010 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Coincidences, Chances, ARE NON EXISTENT situations in the infalible LAWS OF THE ALMIGHT-––is some one DOES NOT HAVE WHAT HE ASPIRE, is because this person DID NOT WORKED ENOUGH TO DESERVE IT----WE CANNOT BECOME BILIONAIRES OVER NIGHT OR BY CHANCE OR BY A NON EXISTING LUCK that unfortunatelly many believes is such supertitions. These few bilionaires bring with them into this present life,the knoe how ,and the INNER experience to archieve their goals. These people created for themselfs "CREDIT" for living their past lifes UNDER THE LAWS OF THE CREATOR, they also bring with them a REWARDING KARMIC CONDITION for all the good they did in their past lifes. GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELFS. IT IS SO SIMPLE REALLY. THE MPTP IS; live your lifes irradiating LOVE, and offering help unconditionally AND YOU WILL REACHE HAPPINES IN THIS LIFE OR IN THE NEXT ONE.

September 16 2010 at 10:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ibabini's comment

I think some people like ibabini need to learn how to talk and to spell, well from reading the post.. seems like the lights are on.. but nobody is home. The one the article is about... did come into it by family.... Gates is a self made man.. wasn't handed to him. And we don't have a past life, we are born.. we die.. we go to heaven or hell. Not depending on how good or rich we are.. but did we recieve Jesus as our Lord and ask him to forgive us. And that "God helps those who helps themselves" is really crazy, because God helps those who ask for help and have faith that he will help them.. God helps people who ask for His help. I have to agree with the one that says they should have a list of who is the happiest people on earth. I also have to agree it is really sad that he has his big house in the poorest place in his country for all the hurting people to have to look at. But what really matters... is where you will spend eternity.. what does it profit if you gain the whole world.. yet lose your soul.

September 17 2010 at 2:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply