Reliance Industries Ltd. Chairman Ambani
Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. Chairman Li Ka-shing
ArcelorMittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal
Mukesh Ambani is Asia’s richest
person with a net worth of $26.8 billion, even after his shares
in India’s top company by market value slid 18 percent over the
past 12 months, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, nicknamed “Superman” by the
local media for his investing prowess, ranks second in Asia,
with a $25.8 billion fortune. Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian-born
chairman of ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, is
the third wealthiest Asian with a net worth of $23.6 billion.
Their fortunes account for about 11 percent of the combined
net worth of the world’s 20 richest people. More Asians are set
to dominate the ranking in the coming years after the number of
billionaires in the region surpassed Europe’s in 2010 and North
America’s in 2011, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.
“Asia is witnessing a tremendous economic boom now and the
entrepreneurs who are steering economic prosperity are cleverly
optimizing these opportunities,” said Noor Quek, previously the
head of business development in Southeast Asia at Citigroup
Inc.’s private-banking unit, who now runs Singapore-based family
office adviser NQ International Pte. “Growth in the number and
wealth of Asian billionaires will be exponential and the process
The number of billionaires in Asia rose to 351 last year,
from 245 in 2010, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth
report. Europe had 251 billionaires while North America
accounted for 332 last year, the Zurich-based bank said.
Ambani, who owns 44.7 percent of Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL),
operator of the world’s biggest oil refining complex and owner
of India’s biggest natural gas field, ranks 11th among the
world’s richest. The 54-year-old industrialist’s stake in the
Mumbai-based energy explorer and refiner is worth $24 billion.
Two years ago, India’s richest man completed his 27-story
house in Mumbai, where half of the city’s population lives in
slums. The skyscraper, called Antilia, is worth at least $500
million, according to Anuj Puri, chairman and country head of
Jones Lang LaSalle.
No. 1 in Hong Kong
Li, Greater China’s wealthiest, ranks 12th worldwide,
according to the index. His investments in Cheung Kong Holdings
Ltd. (1), the world’s third-largest property developer by market
value, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (13), the billionaire’s biggest
company, and Husky Energy Inc. (HSE), a Canadian oil company, are
worth about $24 billion.
The 83-year-old founded Cheung Kong in the 1950s to
manufacture plastics. Li increased his investments in Hong Kong
real estate in 1967 after riots from China’s Cultural Revolution
depressed prices. He correctly forecast in 2007 that China’s
stock-market bubble would burst and predicted in 2009 the rally
in Hong Kong home prices.
Mittal, named after the Hindu goddess of wealth and
prosperity, is the 16th richest man in the world, according to
A 47.5 percent slump in the share price of ArcelorMittal (MT) in
2011 has eroded Mittal’s fortune as cooling economies in China
and Europe sapped demand for steel. His 41 percent stake in the
Luxembourg-based company is worth about $14 billion, compared
with about $17 billion a year ago, according to data compiled by
London is Home
Mittal, 61, has lived in London since 1995 where he owns
several properties, including a 12-bedroom mansion in Kensington
Palace Gardens, which he bought in 2004 for 57.1 million pounds
($90.4 million). He has two other homes nearby. Luxury-home
prices in the U.K.’s most expensive neighborhood have gained
about 110 percent since 2004, said Grainne Gilmore, head of U.K.
residential research at Knight Frank LLP.
Gina Rinehart, the 58-year-old Australian mining heiress
and media investor, is the richest woman in the Asia-Pacific
region, with a net worth of $20.4 billion.
South Korean steelmaker Posco (005490) agreed in January to pay 1.78
trillion won ($1.6 billion) to raise its stake in Rinehart’s Roy
Hill iron ore mine project in Western Australia to 15 percent,
from 3.8 percent. Rinehart, through her Hancock Prospecting Pty.
Ltd., sold a 79 percent stake in two coal projects in the state
of Queensland to India’s GVK Group for $1.26 billion last year.
Lee Shau Kee, the 84-year-old founder of Henderson Land
Development Co. in Hong Kong, is the fifth-richest Asian with an
estimated net worth of $19.8 billion.
Asia’s family-controlled businesses, many of which are at a
“much earlier stage of their life cycle,” will produce more
billionaires as they raise money in capital markets to expand,
said Francesco de Ferrari, the Singapore-based Head of Private
Banking Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse. The market value of Asian
family businesses expanded sixfold from 2000 to 2010, he said.
“Over the next five years, wealth of emerging economies is
expected to leapfrog the developed world due to their more
promising growth prospects,” he said.