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HomeEconomyThe story of Gautam Adani's rise — from kidnapping & 26/11 survivor...

The story of Gautam Adani’s rise — from kidnapping & 26/11 survivor to Mukesh Ambani rival

Gautam Adani's business acumen & ability to overcome obstacles have propelled him to ranks of India’s richest. This year his net worth grew more than Ambani's.

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Mumbai: Gautam Adani has a knack for surviving crisis. He was held for ransom more than two decades ago and in 2008 was among the hostages of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace hotel during the terror attacks that killed more than 160 people.

Since then, his business acumen and ability to overcome obstacles have propelled him to the ranks of India’s richest. And while the coronavirus outbreak sank the nation into an unprecedented recession this year, Adani’s group has kept growing. His conglomerate secured global partners, investments and pushed into new sectors.

Shares of most of his firms have surged, including those of his mining, gas and ports units. Adani Green Energy Ltd. has jumped more than sixfold this year as it received a record $6 billion solar-power deal, another step toward the company’s goal of becoming the world’s largest renewable-energy maker by 2025.

“The market is having FOMO syndrome when it comes to Adani stocks,” said Sanjiv Bhasin, director at investment-management firm IIFL Securities Ltd. “Its businesses are aligned to the current central-government vision. Therefore, the road ahead is smooth for this conglomerate for at least five to six years.”

With a fortune valued at $32.4 billion, Adani is India’s wealthiest person after Mukesh Ambani, who has dominated news headlines for partnering with some of the major names of Silicon Valley. This year alone, the stock surges have added $21.1 billion to Adani’s net worth — even more than Ambani’s gain, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Adani Group representatives declined to comment for this story.

After dropping out of college, Adani tried his luck in Mumbai’s diamond industry in the early 1980s. He soon moved back to his home state of Gujarat to help run his brother’s plastics business before setting up in 1988 Adani Enterprises Ltd., the group’s flagship commodities trader. A decade later, he started to operate the port of Mundra, located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, eventually building India’s largest private-sector port operator.

The group has also become the nation’s biggest non-state owned power producer and a leader in coal mining, and has expanded abroad. In Australia, the tycoon is still dealing with negative publicity for his Carmichael thermal-coal project, for which he won approval last year after a decade-long struggle with regulators and environmentalists.

Like other entrepreneurs, Adani repeatedly picked hot new industries that the government was pushing to develop and where competition was relatively minimal. Even now, the 58-year-old tycoon often cites “nation building” as a key plank of his strategy, a cause that aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision.

Also read: Adani Group set to develop Sri Lanka’s East Container Terminal


“The way they have grown from a trading firm in Ahmedabad to a conglomerate with so many verticals and good diversification — the journey is amazing,” said Umesh Mehta, head of research at Samco Securities in Mumbai. “They had a futuristic vision to build a business with growth potential and that would help India in some way, that had the blessing of the government.”

Adani rose through the ranks just as Modi, also a Gujarati, gained power. The businessman began commercial operations of the Mundra port and built its industrial zone when Modi was the state’s executive head and has been one of the politician’s key supporters for almost two decades.

The billionaire’s rapid diversification started around 2015. When Modi pledged to develop the local manufacturing of defense equipment, he quickly built the capacity to supply the military by partnering with defense contractors. Three years later, a push into gas eventually turned his empire into India’s largest retailer of the fuel in the private sector. In 2019, he started focusing on airports, and now he’s trying to enter sectors including data storage and financial services.

“Modi’s policies have helped business groups since his Gujarat days and that has contributed to the rapid growth of conglomerates such as the Adani Group,” said Indira Hirway, director of the Centre for Development Alternatives in Ahmedabad. “Melding corporate strategies with government priorities — that’s the way of doing business in India.”

While Adani is doing well in his home country, he’s faced opposition and criticism in Australia, where the Stop Adani movement gained traction as lenders turned away from the controversial Carmichael coal project. It even became an election issue in the 2019 parliamentary vote, and last month Adani Enterprises renamed its mining arm in the country in a move that some saw as a way to distance the conglomerate from the development.

The unit’s chief executive officer said then that the quality of the mine’s coal is better than what’s currently in the market and that it will lead to fewer emissions when producing electricity.

That hasn’t stopped the conglomerate from growing, and the fast expansion has led to more than $17 billion in debt, according to a local report in May citing its group chief financial officer. It has been able to keep raising funds, in part by pivoting to green energy and increasingly borrowing from overseas banks.

For international investors and global energy majors trying to expand their renewable portfolio and get a piece of the lucrative Indian market, Adani’s empire is attractive. France’s energy giant Total SA has already invested in Adani Green and distributor Adani Gas Ltd., while Italy’s Snam SpA is working with the group on a strategic collaboration to explore opportunities in hydrogen and other cleaner fuels.

“As an entrepreneur, Adani has extraordinary conviction and ability to scale up after taking a calculated risk,” said Deven Choksey, managing director at KRChoksey Investment Managers Pvt. “For international investors, they can’t miss Adani, who is already sitting on cash-generating assets in a growing market like India.” – Bloomberg

Also read: India’s rich got richer despite pandemic with Mukesh Ambani leading the list, Forbes says


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  1. Wow rags to riches and hardwork seems to be the mantra.. just like rajnikanth movie story… Hahaha.. Corrupt adani along with feku modi and Shahi is looting countries wealth.. Now they are talking of strategy and business acumen.. joke..
    The writer should be kicked out of this platform

  2. Dheerubhai Ambani became rich under Nehru, Indira and Rajiv. Bajaj family has always been close to Nehru-Gandhi family. Not to mention Birla too etc. would any of these authors care to mention these ? of course not for very very obvious reasons

  3. How come Kingfisher nose dived after so much successful acquisitions?

    If govt. Favours one can do miracles in this country.

  4. Leftist have habit of criticising everything. They themselves were unsuccessful. Because of their policies we have loss making public sector and dysfunctional bureaucracy.

  5. Very good. Hopefully, the Adani group will not lobby for govt contracts, will not affect the Central government’s policies on important issues like farm reforms, and will contribute to ‘nation building’ only…and there goes a pig flying! 😄

  6. The article is silent on many others qualities he has. He is another Ambani in dealing with the political party in power. The highest donor for the party.

  7. As long as Adani, Ambani and other corporate houses are patriots, honest and contributing in our country’s growth we should not go after them. If we kill our industry how will we generate jobs, how will India compete with China, how will we be able to compete with rest of the world. Do not get carried away by sloganeering during Punjab farmers protests against Ambanistan , Idanistan jibes coined by the leftist unionists. For developement we need Farm reforms, Industry, corporates and less politics. Congress is the mastermind behind these protests. All right mind economists admit that Farm laws have been overdue for the past couple of decades. So farmers must accept the olive branch offered by the govt. and not get carried away by the Gung Ho “mahaul” prevelant with NRIs and at Sindhu border. The Bhed Chal attitude of neighbouring states farmers for future Quid pro Quo is ill conceived, their relatives must dissuade them!!!

    • This Singh Sahab knows more than lakhs of farmers, thousands of academics, hundreds of organisations, NGOs, politicians & unions.
      So kneel down before government laws to bring luck to “New India” of dreams.
      This is “TooMuchDemocracy” that everyone gives his/gyan on any subject under the sky consuming (secretly) subsidised JIO data.
      The ‘Right Mind Economists’ must be ‘righlty’ getting ‘WhatsApp’ forwards from ministries as ‘right journalists’ got ‘right farmers’ numbers from Javdekar’s I&B ministry 😎.
      This is “Right Patriotism” to save Bharat from greedy politicians and corporations going in Wrong path of crushing the Locals wishing to Global.
      Adani AgriLohistics built huge huge warehouses not to supply grains to PDS but to sell to malls and then surplus will be exported to foreign countries.
      What will be that surplus? It will be the food that poor countrymen will not be able to buy for lack of money in hands.
      But Right Minds will tell you that “No, these corporates will go e you jobs, so allow them loot you, your Bharat, your Agri lands, Tribal lands, forests, waters, rivers, mountains, mines & what not?
      Finally, let the farmers ‘deal’ and bargain “DIRECTLY” with Corporates!
      Why the governments should come into picture by bringing laws, acquiring lands, subsidising loans to giants from public sector banks on behalf of corporates? They call it so called “Reforms”
      Better reform your minds & hearts which will make you listen to your inner voice (if it still is left in new Vishwa Guru Bharat)?

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