Srinagar: Just a few years ago, Gautam Adani was mostly unknown outside of India. But this week, the Indian billionaire, a dropout from college who first tried his luck as a diamond trader before switching to coal, became the third-richest person in the world.
It’s the first time an Asian has entered the top three of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index; Jack Ma of China and fellow citizen Mukesh Ambani have never done so.
With a fortune of $137.4 billion, Adani has surpassed Bernard Arnault of France and is now just behind US billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in terms of wealth.
The 60-year-old Adani has invested the last five years in growing his coal-to-ports conglomerate by foraying into a variety of industries, including data centres, cement, media, and alumina.
The group today controls the largest private-sector coal miner, city-gas distributor, and operator of ports and airports in India. Environmentalists have attacked the company’s Carmichael mine in Australia, but it promised in November to invest $70 billion in renewable energy to become the greatest generator in the world.