Top 10 Richest Indians

Richest Indian

These are painful times for India’s richest as the ongoing global turmoil drastically reshapes their fortunes. The country’s once soaring stock market fell 48% in the 12 months, the rupee depreciated 24% against the dollar and gross domestic product growth is expected to slow down to 7.5%, partly owing to double-digit inflation.

All of this conspired to knock 60% off the combined fortunes of the nation’s 40 wealthiest. Their total net worth fell $212 billion, to $139 billion, down from $351 billion a year ago.

33 / 34 Indians return to the list but 20% poorer than they were a year ago

Last year’s No. 1, U.K. resident Lakshmi Mittal, dropped $30.5 billion amid plunging steel prices, but he slips only a bit, to No. 2. Mukesh Ambani, who oversees petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries, grabs the top spot for the first time, despite losing $28.2 billion in the past year. His estranged brother, Anil, ranked third, is the biggest dollar loser, down $32.5 billion.

Others were nearly wiped out entirely. India’s wind power man Tulsi Tanti and his brothers lost 91% of their fortune, amid reports about the poor quality of Suzlon’s wind blades. Real estate fortunes were among those hit the hardest. K.P.Singh lost $27.2 billion since we last published our listing but is down an astonishing $39 billion since his DLF stock peaked in January. Property tycoon Ramesh Chandra’s net worth dropped 91% to $1 billion. His Unitech lost half its market capitalization in one day last month.

Thirty-three of the 34 tycoons who returned to our ranking of India’s richest are at least 20% poorer than they were a year ago. Only one fortune from last year’s ranks increased, that of brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, who sold their 34% stake in generic drug firm Ranbaxy Laboratories to Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo at a hefty premium to its current stock price. They added $550 million to their combined wealth.

Others with pharmaceuticals fortunes outperformed the market, but thanks to a sliding rupee, their net worth fell too. Dilip Shanghvi of SunPharma, India’s most valuable drug maker, was poorer by $800 million, despite an increase in his net worth in rupees.

Six people dropped off our list altogether after losing a collective $7.9 billion. They included flamboyant liquor and airlines tycoon Vijay Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines (other-otc: KNGFY.PK – news – people ) is racking up losses, and Gautam Thapar, whose Ballarpur Industries is India’s largest paper maker. Taking their places are four newcomers, including Micky Jagtiani, who oversees a retailing empire in the Middle East, and Hemant Shah, son of a Bollywood film producer, who made his fortune in construction.

No. 1 Mukesh Ambani

Net Worth: $20.8 billion (dropped)
Age: 51
Marital Status: Married, 3 children
Hometown: Mumbai

About Mukesh Ambani: Makes debut as India’s richest, despite fact that net worth fell $28.2 billion in past year as stock price of petrochemicals flagship Reliance Industries tanked. Unfazed, Mukesh upped Reliance stake, paying $3.4 billion to convert 120 million preferential warrants into shares, at a premium to stock price. Legal spat with estranged brother Anil over gas supply agreement still unresolved.

No. 2 Laxmi Mittal

Net Worth: $20.5 billion (dropped)
Age: 58
Marital Status: Married, 2 children
Hometown: London

About Laxmi Mittal: Stock of world’s largest steel outfit, ArcelorMittal, which he heads, spiraled to 4-year lows amid falling steel prices. In November announced plans to cut output, reduce debt. Mittal joined Goldman Sachs board in June. Has stakes in Indiabulls, RAB Capital.

No. 3 Anil Ambani

Net Worth: $12.5 billion (dropped)
Age: 49
Marital Status: Married, 2 children
Hometown: Mumbai

About Anil Ambani: Plans to merge his Reliance Communications with South Africa’s MTN in what would have been India’s largest-ever overseas deal were scuttled in July after brother Mukesh threatened to sue, claiming he had right of first refusal. Stock stumbled 48% since. Married to a onetime Bollywood actress, Anil has Hollywood ambitions: His Reliance Entertainment is investing $500 million in a new studio venture with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks.

No. 4 Sunil Mittal

Net Worth: $7.9 billion (dropped)
Age: 51
Marital Status: Married, 3 children
Hometown: Delhi

About Sunil Mittal: Runs Bharti Group whose Bharti Airtel is country’s largest mobile phone operator. In May backed out of deal to take over South Africa’s MTN, opening door for Anil Ambani’s failed bid. Launched Airtel Digital TV, a direct-to-home digital television service. Joint venture with Wal-Mart expected to open its first store next year. Funding soccer academy.

No. 5 Kushal Pal Singh

Net Worth: $7.8 billion (dropped)
Age: 77
Marital Status: Married, 3 children
Hometown: Delhi

About Kushal Pal Singh: Real estate baron and DLF chairman lost $27.2 billion in past year. Attempt to boost share price through share buyback was unsuccessful as were its plans to list its real estate investment trust in Singapore. Company paid $40 million in February to sponsor new cricket league for 5 years.

No. 6 Shashi & Ravi Ruia

Net Worth: $7.6 billion (dropped)
Age: 64
Marital Status: Married, 2 children/Married, 2 children
Hometown: Mumbai

About Shashi Ruia and Ravi Ruia: Brothers’ Essar Group’s most valuable asset is 33% stake in mobile phone operator Vodafone Essar, India’s third largest. Also own 8% in rival telecom firm BPL Mobile. Lost out to Russian firm Severstal in bid for steelmaker Esmark this year. Other holdings in shipping, oil, construction, power.

No. 7 Azim Premji

Net Worth: $7 billion (dropped)
Age: 63
Marital Status: Married, 2 children
Hometown: Bangalore

About Azim Premji: Longtime head of $4.9 billion (revenues) Bangalore outsourcing giant Wipro, handed over operations to 2 co-chief executives in April. Remains chairman. Hit by global economic slowdown, stock is down 44% in past year.

No. 8 Kumar Birla

Net Worth: $5 billion (dropped)
Age: 41
Marital Status: Married, 3 children
Hometown: Mumbai

About Kumar Birla: Head of Aditya Birla Group, commodities conglomerate inherited from father, with operations in 25 countries. His telecom outfit bought 50% of mobile operator Spice Communications. In October a rights issue by its aluminum maker Hindalco unraveled as its stock price plunged to alltime low.

No. 9 Adi Godrej

Net Worth: $4 billion (dropped)
Age: 66
Marital Status: Married, 3 children
Hometown: Mumbai

About Adi Godrej: Third generation head of Godrej Group, a consumer products conglomerate which makes locks, soaps, mosquito repellants, furniture and foods. In major image makeover, group logo was changed for the first time since it was founded 111 years ago. Following the easing of decades-old land ownership restrictions, Godrej has outlined ambitious plans to develop family’s 3,500 acre estate in suburban Mumbai. Son Pirojsha, a Columbia grad, works in property arm.

No. 10 Gautam Adani

Net Worth: $3.9 billion (dropped)
Age: 46
Marital Status: Married, 2 children
Hometown: Ahmedabad

About Gautam Adani: Dropped out of college to start a trading outfit 20 years ago. Now his Adani Enterprises has interests in edible oils, power, infrastructure. Owns Mundra Port, India’s largest in private sector. Fishermen recently took Adani to court over special economic zone he’s building on western coast; court ruled in his favor. Plans to list power subsidiary are delayed.

The data comes from the Forbes list of India’s 40 Richest. It is based on each person’s total net worth. The total net worth is an estimate measured in United States dollars, based on the closing stock prices of the stock exchanges on which each person’s company is listed, and exchange rates on November 3, 2008. Stock prices are defined as shares of ownership in a corporation, and exchange rates are defined as how much one currency is worth in terms of another. This list only represents each person’s valuation on a single day due to daily fluctuations among exchange rates and stock valuations. The report was published on November 12 2008.