10. Mukesh Ambani
- Age: 64
- Residence: Mumbai, India
- Chair and Managing Director: Reliance Industries
- Net Worth: $84.5 billion
- Reliance Industries Ownership Stake: 42% ($86.09 billion total)
- Other Assets: Mumbai residential property ($410 million private assets) and $975 million in cash
Reliance Industries was originally founded as a small textile manufacturer by Dhirubhai Ambani in 1966. In 1979, Dhirubhai’s son Mukesh moved to Palo Alto, California to attend Stanford Business School. A year later, Mukesh returned home at the behest of his father to oversee the construction of a new polyester mill, during which time he also joined Reliance Industries’ board. Rather than moving back to the U.S. to finish his university program, Mukesh remained in India to lead Reliance’s backward integration initiative. During the 1990s, he spearheaded the company’s efforts to create—as well as acquire—multiple petrochemical plants and petroleum refineries.
In 2002, Dhirubhai suffered a stroke and passed away. The lack of a will resulted in a feud between Mukesh and his brother Anil over how their father’s empire would be distributed. Three years later, as the result of a settlement brokered by their mother, the siblings agreed to split the business, with Mukesh retaining control over refining, petrochemicals, oil and gas, and textile operations. This didn’t completely ease the tension between the two brothers, as they would neither settle a legal dispute over sharing natural gas nor dissolve their non-compete agreements until 2010.
In 2013, Mukesh and Anil seemingly buried the hatchet with the announcement of a $220 million pact to share a fiber-optic network between their two companies.
Reliance Industries has established several highly successful subsidiaries under Mukesh’s leadership, including Reliance Retail and telecommunications company Jio. He is also a member of The Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, an elected Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Engineering, a member of the Global Advisory Council of Bank of America, and a member of the International Advisory Council of The Brookings Institution.
The Bottom Line
If you want to get a little closer to making Bloomberg’s richest billionaires list, you might need to become a technological innovator or a retail king. Or you can keep it simple and focus on value investing. However, the greatest fortunes on this list started as great ideas from people with the creativity, drive, and connections to make them take off.