India trailing behind Russia in billionaire club

India trailing behind Russia in billionaire club

A weaker stock market seems to have shrunk the Indian billionaire club to less than half the size of that in Russia, which has become the world's second country after the US to boast of over 100 people with net worth of at least $1 billion.

According to a new list published in the American business magazine Forbes's Russian edition for the month of May, Russia is now home to 110 billionaires. This compares with 87 Russians included in Forbes' Global Billionaire List released in March and just 60 a year ago.

In its worldwide list, Forbes had identified 53 Indian billionaires, led by NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and two Ambani brothers - Mukesh and Anil, with a combined net worth of about $341 billion.

With mostly downward movement in the Indian stock market since February 9 - the date Forbes used for share price and exchange rates for calculating wealth of world's billionaires - the number and net worth of Indian billionaires is understood to have fallen sharply.

However, the Russian stock market has performed better in comparison to the Indian bourse in the same period, while favourable foreign currency trend there is also believed to have helped in inflating the billionaire club of Russia.

While the value of Indian stock market has, on an average, declined by over 10 per cent in this period, the same in Russia has gained by more than 10 per cent.

In the broadly worldwide stock market meltdown so far in 2008, the Indian market has fell by close to 22 per cent, while the fall in Russia is only about seven per cent.

The total wealth of Russia's 100 richest has been put out by Forbes at $522 billion, while the net worth of 110 billionaires, which that country has, is estimated at about $532 billion.

In comparison, the Forbes' global list released in March pegged the collective net worth of 87 Russian billionaires at about $470 billion.

While the net worth of Russian billionaires has grown by over $50 billion in about two months, that of Indian billionaires is estimated to have fallen by a similar amount.

However, net worth of the richest man in Russia - Oleg Deripaska, who heads industrial conglomerate holding company Basic Element - at $28.6 billion is just about half of that of the world's richest Indian Lakshmi Mittal.

Mittal's net worth is currently estimated at about $55 billion, by virtue of his 43.04 per cent holding in the steel giant ArcelorMittal.

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