Oct 25, 2008

India - Market Mayhem;How much poorer have Indian Billionaires become

Vijay Gaurav

MUMBAI: The next time Forbes announces its list of billionaires (assuming it dares to do so even amid a massive wealth destruction globally),
chances are that many Indian tycoons will find to their dismay that their rankings have slipped a few notches.

Even if they managed to retain their slots, or even climb up a few rungs, it would still be cold comfort, as few billion of their wealth would evaporate amid the ongoing turmoil in the stock market.

As the late British financier Sir James Goldsmith remarked when congratulated for cashing out before the stock market crash of 1987, "It is like winning a game of bridge on the decks of the Titanic."

The Sensex recorded the second-biggest single-day fall in absolute terms on Friday when it crashed by 1,071 points, or 11%, to close at 8,701. With this, the index has crashed more than 12,000 points, or nearly 60%, since its peak of 20,873 achieved on January 8, 2008.

Market cap of all the companies traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has evaporated by a staggering Rs 46 lakh crore, or $940bn during the period. So, how poorer have top industrialists like the Ambanis, Tatas and Birlas become after the meltdown in the share prices of their companies?

An ET analysis of promoter wealth loss between January 8 and October 24, 2008, shows that the two Ambani brothers bore the brunt of the stock market mayhem, witnessing the highest wealth erosion among promoters of the top business houses in the country.

Though still dominating the market cap ranking, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani saw his personal wealth crash from $57.6bn as on January 8 to $14.4bn as on Friday, a fall of 75% since January 8.

A major part of the wealth erosion happened in the flagship company, RIL, whose market cap has declined by Rs 2.8 lakh crore, or $57bn. The market cap of two other group companies Reliance Petroleum and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure fell by $15.3bn and $0.7bn during the period.

Mukesh’s younger brother Anil Ambani of the ADAG group saw his wealth tumble from $48.4bn to $8.4bn, a loss of 83%. His five companies, Reliance Communication, Reliance Capital, RNRL, Reliance Infrastructure and Adlabs Films, recorded an aggregate market cap loss of $53.7bn.

Realty major DLF is the third-biggest loser where the promoter wealth has eroded from $44bn to as low as $6bn. DLF is followed by Tatas who saw their wealth in 27 listed companies plunge from $38.2bn to $12.8bn, a loss of 67%.

TCS, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Communications and Tata Teleservices are among the key companies in the Tata group to have taken a big hit on market cap during January 8 to October 24 2008.

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