Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, ‘Indian Warren Buffet’, dies aged 62

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

A chartered accountant turned stockbroker at 25, Jhunjhunwala went on to found asset management company Rare Enterprises, which has 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 Airstarted operating 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 his passion for “all things Indian”. .

A cause of death was not immediately available. A member of Jhunjhunwala’s family told Reuters the investor “died surrounded by his family and loved ones”. He is survived by his wife, Rekha Jhunjhunwala, and three children.

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

‘Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable,’ Indian PM says Narendra Modi said. “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.

“Investor, bold risk-taker, masterful understanding of the stock market, clear communication – a leader in his own right,” said India’s finance minister. Nirmala Sitharaman wrote on Twitter.

In a 2021 interview With India’s Economic Times, Jhunjhunwala expressed his confidence in India’s ability to outperform the world’s second-largest economy, China. “You can call me a fool, 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,” did he declare.

Jhunjhunwala “thought Indian stocks 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 “surprisingly sharp in understanding financial markets”.

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

His father was a commissioner for the income tax department of the Indian government and gave Jhunjhunwala tips for investing, according to the Financial Express. Jhunjhunwala invested just $100 in purse as a 25-year-old college student, according to Forbes — and eventually turned that into a multi-billion dollar portfolio.

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

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

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