Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the billionaire known as the “Warren Buffet of India”, has died

PHOTO DE ARCHIVO: Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo

Billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, nicknamed “India’s Warren Buffett” for his successful stock bets, died on Sunday at the age of 62, one of his companies confirmed.

A public accountant who went public at age 25, Jhunjhunwala went on to create the asset management firm Rare Enterpriseswhich invested in companies in the telecommunications, hospitality and financial services sectors, among others.

He had an estimated net worth of $5.8 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes, which called Jhunjhunwala an “investor with a Midas touch.” His latest venture, a low-cost airline called Akasa Air, started operations in India last week.

“We are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala this morning,” Akasa Air said in a statement on Sunday, praising the businessman’s “invincible spirit” and passion for “all things Indian.”

The cause of death was not immediately released. A member of Jhunjhunwala’s family told Reuters that the investor “He passed away surrounded by his family and close collaborators”. He is survived by his wife, Rekha Jhunjhunwala, and three children.

People are seen outside the residence of the late Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala to pay their respects after his passing today in Mumbai, India, August 14, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
People are seen outside the residence of the late Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala to pay their respects after his passing today in Mumbai, India, August 14, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

Local media reported that Jhunjhunwala was in poor health and had appeared in a wheelchair at a launch event for Akasa Air last Sunday.

Indian politicians and business leaders expressed condolences over Jhunjhunwala’s death. Many praised his efforts to educate people about stock trading, as well as his optimism about India and its economy.

“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world. He was also very passionate about the progress of India.”

“Investor, fearless risk taker, masterful understanding of the stock market, clear in communication, a leader in his own right,” India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wrote on Twitter.

In a 2021 interview with India’s Economic Times, Jhunjhunwala expressed confidence in India’s ability to outperform the world’s second largest economy, China. “You can call me dumb, you can call me anything, I may not live to see it, but I can tell you one thing: India will overtake China in the next 25 years,” she said.

He had an estimated net worth of $5.8 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes, which called Jhunjhunwala an “investor with a Midas touch.” His latest venture, a low-cost airline called Akasa Air, started operations in India last week. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/File Photo

Jhunjhunwala “believed that Indian equities were undervalued. He is right,” wrote Uday Kotak, a billionaire banker from India who said he went to school with Jhunjhunwala and described him as “incredibly keen in understanding financial markets”.

Jhunjhunwala was born in July 1960 and grew up in Mumbai. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Mumbai and later graduated from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

His father was a commissioner of the Indian government’s income tax department and gave Jhunjhunwala advice on investments, according to the Financial Express. Jhunjhunwala invested just $100 in the stock market as a 25-year-old student, according to Forbes, eventually turning it into a multi-million dollar portfolio.

He was also a fan of Indian movies and co-produced three Bollywood movies between 2012 and 2016.

Indian markets commentator Ajay Bagga told the BBC that Jhunjhunwala “personified the history of India”: “a middle-class young man rising through the ranks to build such a vast fortune.”

(c) The Washington Post

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