(Bloomberg) — Indian billionaire Gautam Adani displaced Bill Gates to become the world’s fourth-richest person.
Adani’s net worth surged to $112.5 billion on Thursday, surpassing the Microsoft Corp. co-founder by $230 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The Indian tycoon has added $36 billion to his fortune this year, more than anyone else, while Gates’s has shrunk as he sped up philanthropic giving and tech shares sold off.
Adani, who built his empire on agri-trading, coal and ports, has been moving up a wealth ranking traditionally dominated by US tech entrepreneurs. He’s been rapidly diversifying into green energy, airports, data centers, digital services and media, aligning his strategy with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nation-building agenda. Firms in his eponymous group have attracted global investors including France’s TotalEnergies SE and Warburg Pincus, boosting their shares.
The first-generation entrepreneur and college dropout who started off with an agri-trading firm in the late 1980s has amassed almost all of his wealth in the past two years as his push to diversify intensified. He became a centibillionaire in April, joining the elite club that includes people Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
In November, he pledged to invest $70 billion across the green energy value chain by 2030 — a commitment that’s often criticized by environmentalists given his group’s investment in developing the Carmichael coal mine project in Australia.
Most recently, he’s been exploring potential partnerships with Aramco, including the possibility of buying a stake in the Saudi petroleum giant, acquired Holcim Ltd.’s cement businesses in India for $10.5 billion, and signed a pact with South Korea’s steel producer Posco to explore business opportunities. In April, Adani Enterprises Ltd., the group’s flagship firm, said it had established a new media subsidiary, signaling his ambitions to tap the fast-growing local entertainment market.
His ascent coincided with a philanthropic boost by some of the world’s richest people. Gates said earlier this month that he’s sending $20 billion to his foundation, which would more than cover the $15 billion he and his ex-wife promised in 2021. Last year’s pledge was accounted for in the wealth index when he made the announcement, and $5 billion more was added to that liability for the new promise, dropping Gates’s net worth to just below Adani’s.
Warren Buffett, who’s fallen to No. 7 on the ranking, has donated more than $35 billion to the charity, including $3.1 billion in June alone.
Adani has also increased his charitable giving. In June, to mark his 60th birthday, he pledged to donate $7.7 billion to a variety of social causes.
(Updates sixth paragraph on Holcim deal.)