Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani is now the second-wealthiest person in Asia after adding $12.5 billion (around Rs 80,000 crore) to his wealth this year.
Mukesh Ambani, the long-time chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), has overtaken Hong Kong real estate mogul Li Ka-Shing to become the second-richest person in Asia as his company's shares hit a record high.
Ambani has added $12.5 billion to his wealth this year alone, taking his net worth to a total of $35.2 billion (around Rs 2.2 lakh crore), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. This surge in wealth also makes him the 19th richest man in the world, up from 29th at the end of 2016. Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma is currently the richest person in Asia with a net worth of $43.7 billion.
Ambani's sudden promotion in the billionaire's club is partly due to the positive performance of RIL telecommunications subsidiary, Jio Infocomm Ltd. Investors rallied behind the company after Ambani announced the launch of the JioPhone a few weeks ago.
Speaking at his company's 40th annual general meeting on July 21, Ambani unveiled a 4G-enabled feature phone with the intention of providing 'access to data at affordable rates' to India's financially-constrained phone users. The JioPhone, which is effectively free (with a deposit of Rs 1,500 fully refundable after three years), will offer customers unlimited voice, SMS, and data for Rs 153 per month.
The launch of the data-enabled feature phone is expected to bolster Jio's 100 million-plus user base, which the telco accrued in just nine months on the back of an introductory offer that gave customers unlimited 4G phone data for free.
Jio hasn't yet earned its parent company any profits, however, and has instead contributed to its increasing debts due to several high-value investments. The majority of RIL's revenues still come from its core refining and petrochemicals units.