Few outside of India had heard of Gautam Adani just a few years ago. Now the Indian businessman, a college dropout who first tried his luck as a diamond trader before turning to coal, has become the world’s third-richest person.
It’s the first time an Asian person has broken into the top three of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — fellow citizen Mukesh Ambani and China’s Jack Ma never made it that far. With a $137.4 billion fortune, Mr Adani has overtaken France’s Bernard Arnault and now trails just Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos of the US in the ranking.
Mr Adani, 60, has spent the past few years expanding his coal-to-ports conglomerate, venturing into everything from data centres to cement, media and alumina. The group now owns India’s largest private-sector port and airport operator, city-gas distributor and coal miner. While its Carmichael mine in Australia has been criticised by environmentalists, it pledged in November to invest $70 billion in green energy to become the world’s largest renewable-energy producer.