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Mukesh Ambani tops Forbes’ richest Indian list

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New Delhi: Mukesh Ambani remains the richest Indian for the 12th year in a row. He added $4.1 billion to his net worth as Jio, a three-year old telecom unit of his Reliance Industries, became one of India’s biggest mobile carriers with 340 million subscribers.

Another big gainer was infrastructure tycoon Gautam Adani, who jumped eight spots to No. 2. After a nine-year wait, Adani secured permission in June to start work on an Australian coal mine. A resident of Modi’s home state of Gujarat, Adani has ventured into a slew of new businesses from airports to data centers. A $4 billion boost propelled banker Uday Kotak into the top five for the first time. The lower tax rate is expected to boost earnings of his Kotak Mahindra Bank, which saw its shares rise 39% since we last measured fortunes.

There are six new faces this year, including Byju Raveendran, the 38-year-old founder of fast-rising edtech unicorn Byju’s; Manohar Lal and Madhusudan Agarwal of Delhi-headquartered Haldiram Snacks; and Rajesh Mehra, whose family owns the popular Jaquar brand of bathroom fittings. Samprada Singh, founder of Alkem Laboratories, died in July and his fortune is now listed under his family.

The top 10 richest India includes the names of Hinduja brothers, Pallonji Mistry, Uday Kotak, Shiv Nadar, Radhakishan Damani, Godrej family, Lakshmi Mittal and Kumar Birla respectively.

Forbes compiled the list using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and India’s regulatory agencies.

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FM Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India, BPCL to be sold by March 2020

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said that the central government is looking to wrap up the sale of state-run companies Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) by March next year.

Sitharaman said that the sale has been strategically decided upon after being aborted a year ago due to lukewarm responses. Many investors have shown interest to purchase the two loss-making companies and it could help meet the government’s disinvestment target of Rs 1 lakh crore in the current fiscal year, she said in an interview.

“We are moving on both with the expectation that we can complete them this year. The ground realities will play out,” Sitharaman stated while speaking to The Times of India.

Earlier this month, Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani, in an open letter to Air India employees, had said that the divestment may enable the airline’s sustainability.

For Air India, there is a “lot of interest” among investors, Ms Sitharaman said.

Recently, the cabinet approved changes in the process of disinvestment where the prospective bidders will be heard in roadshows before the expressions of interest (EoIs) are floated so that concerns of the prospective buyers are addressed.

Last year, the government had floated the Expression of Interest (EoI) for Air India to offload a 76 per cent stake and management control in the airline but it did not get a single bidder. The government currently owns 100 per cent equity of Air India.

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