Ace stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, often referred to as India’s Warren Buffett, died here Sunday morning. He was 62.
Jhunjhunwala died early this morning due to a cardiac arrest, a source in his newly set up airline said.
A self-made trader, investor and businessman, he was also known as the ‘Big Bull’ of Dalal Street. With an estimated net worth of around USD 5.8 billion (about Rs 46,000 crore), Jhunjhunwala was the 36th richest billionaire in India, according to Forbes’ 2021 listing. Son of an income tax officer, he is survived by his wife and three children.
A chartered accountant by education, he had not been keeping well for the last few months because of a kidney ailment. He was seen on a wheelchair at recent public events. Starting off his journey in stock markets while still in college with a capital of just Rs 5,000, he recently teamed up with ex-Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube and former IndiGo head Aditya Ghosh to launch Akasa Air — India’s newest budget carrier.
The airline began commercial operations this month with its maiden flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.
He began investing with Rs 5,000 in 1985 when the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark index Sensex was at 150; it now trades at over 59,000. He had investments in more than three dozen companies, the most valuable being watch and jewellery maker Titan, part of the Tata conglomerate. His portfolio included companies like Star Health, Rallis India, Escorts, Canara Bank, Indian Hotels Company, Agro Tech Foods, Nazara Technologies and Tata Motors.
He was also the chairman of Hungama Media and Aptech and sat on the board of directors of firms such as Viceroy Hotels, Concord Biotech, Provogue India and Geojit Financial Services. His 5.05 percent holding in Titan alone is worth over Rs 11,000 crore. His largest holding is in Aptech Ltd (23.37 per cent), followed by Star Health and Allied Insurance Co Ltd (17.49 per cent), Metro Brands (14.43 per cent), NCC Ltd (2.62 per cent) and Nazara Technologies Ltd (10.03 per cent).
Born on July 5, 1960 in a Rajasthani family, Jhunjhunwala grew up in Bombay, where his father worked as a Commissioner of Income Tax. He graduated from Sydenham College and thereafter enrolled at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
He earned his first big profit in 1986 when he bought 5,000 shares of Tata Tea at Rs 43 and the stock rose to Rs 143 within three months.
In three years, he earned Rs 20-25 lakh. His privately-owned stock trading firm Rare Enterprises derived its name from the first two letters of his name and that of his wife Rekha, who is also a stock market investor.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met Jhunjhunwala and his wife last year, described him as indomitable, full of life, witty and insightful. ”He leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world. He was also very passionate about India’s progress. His passing away is saddening. My condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” Modi tweeted.