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Mukesh Ambani news: Mukesh Ambani has been making Rs 90 crore an hour since the Covid lockdown began

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Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, has been adding Rs 90 crore per hour to his wealth since the March lockdown, according to the IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List 2020 released today.

The fortunes of Ambani, who retained the title of the richest Indian for the 9th year on run, rose by Rs 2,77,000 crore to Rs 6,58,000 crore, the latest list showed.

The new rankings come a couple of days after US private equity firm Silver Lake’s Rs 7,500 crore investment in Reliance Retail, an investment that valued the venture at a pre-money equity value of Rs 4.21 lakh crore.

Ambani’s recent $20 billion fund-raising spree has already fulfilled his target of making Reliance Industries net-debt-free. This gives the tycoon unrivalled financial clout at a time when most other companies’ balance sheets have been decimated by the pandemic.

As of now, the 63-year-old tycoon has his sights firmly set on tech and retail as future growth drivers. Ambani’s ambitions include creating a home-grown e-commerce giant like China’s Alibaba.

His consistent ability to dominate the Indian market in whichever area he picks has turned him into the first port of call for big global companies seeking to invest.

And Ambani’s clout is only set to rise further. India is a market of over a billion potential customers that is still largely out of most global companies’ sphere of influence. While China is a comparable option, it remains primarily shut for non-Chinese businesses.

In all, the latest Hurun list features 828 individuals with a net worth of Rs 1,000 crore. This is a three-fold jump in numbers compared to five years earlier.

The number of dollar billionaires stood at 179, a three-fold rise since 2013 when the list was first published.

Of the 828 persons who made it to the list, 627 witnessed a rise in their fortunes, while 229 persons saw their wealth decrease during the period. There were 75 people who lost their place in the list. Six of the rank-holders in the previous list died.

As many as 162 were debutants in the list, and 76 per cent of these new entries were self-made.

90 per cent entities to which these individuals belong are family-run.

Smita V Crishna, with a fortune of Rs 32,400 cr, is the richest Indian woman in the rankings. She is followed by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw with Rs 31,600 crore. Mazumdar-Shaw, the head of Biocon, is also the richest self-made woman in the country, the list showed.

A total of 21 persons in the list are under the age of 40. Of them, 17 are self-made.

These 828 individuals collectively account for a fortune of $821 billion (Rs 60,59,500 crore). This is a jump of $140 billion (Rs 10,29,400 cr) from the previous list. The sharp rise in the share price of RIL had a significant contribution to this rise, apart from the rise in Ambani’s personal wealth.

In the list, Mukesh Ambani is the only Indian to feature among the global top 5. The meteoric rise in his fortunes after diversifying from oil to telecom and retail has had its fair share of detractors too, with some analysts saying that business in India is increasingly going the monopoly way. But given big private equity’s unabated enthusiasm to tango with Ambani, any pivot away from his current strategy appears highly unlikely.





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‘I could live on my Social Security and still save money’: This 66-year-old left Chicago for ‘calming’ Costa Rica — where he now plans to live indefinitely

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Editor’s note: This article was first published in September 2019.

A school break changed 66-year-old Martin Farber’s life forever.

In 2007, his daughter — who at the time was attending Illinois State University — decided she wanted to spend a college holiday volunteering in Costa Rica and staying with a local family, he explains. She came home raving about the experience, so, in 2008, Farber — who at the time was living in Evanston, Ill., just outside Chicago, and selling cars — took his first trip there.

“It was a big surprise to me — bumpy roads, dogs barking in the streets,” he says. “I wasn’t enamored at first.”

But as his daughter began traveling there more and eventually moved there for a year, he took additional trips to Costa Rica. It quickly grew on him — in particular, the people. “The Costa Rican people are warm, open and friendly. I felt less invisible in a strange country in a strange town where I didn’t speak the language than I did in Evanston.”

And the more time he spent there, the more it impacted him: “On one of my trips there, I thought: My daughter’s life makes more sense than mine,” he says. “There was nothing wrong with my life, but I felt that my life was out of context with who I’d become. … I would have bills and make money to pay them, but that had ceased to be satisfying,” he recalls. “I knew I needed to change my life — there was no more joy in what I was doing.”

What’s more, when he’d return from his Costa Rica trips, people noticed. “I would come back, and my friends and therapist would say: You seem better after you go,” he says with a laugh.

A view from the hot springs near Martin Farber’s home in Costa Rica.


Martin Farber

So in 2014, he packed up and moved to Orosi — a picturesque, lush small town with waterfalls and hot springs a little over an hour’s drive from San Jose — promising himself he’d stay for two years. It’s been five, and he now plans to stay in Costa Rica indefinitely. (Though Farber notes that, to him, “it’s not a retirement; it’s a chance to lead a new and different life.”)

Here’s what his life is like, from costs to health care to residency to everyday life:

The cost: While many expats spend way more living in Costa Rica, Farber says: “I could live on my Social Security and still save money.” He says “a person can live on $1,200 per month, two people on $2,000.” The key, he says, is to live more like he does and as the Costa Ricans do — in a modest home, eating local food and purchasing local goods.

Indeed, Farber himself spends just $300 a month for rent (he rents a home from a friend who moved recently and gave him a good deal), roughly $225 a month on groceries and just $50 a month total on water and electricity (the temperate climate in Orosi means you rarely need heat or air conditioning). The veteran Volkswagen
VOW,
+0.96%

 
VLKAF,
+0.98%

salesman saves money by not owning a car (those over 65 ride municipal buses for free), which can be a significant expense in Costa Rica; for his cellphone, “I pay as I go … roughly $10 may last me a couple weeks or more,” he says, adding that “many people handle there their cellphones this way. You can get them recharged anywhere.”

His major expense is travel: He goes back to the U.S. to visit his mother in Florida several times a year and lately has spent part of the summer in Chicago helping out a friend with a dealership there. He also spends a good amount of money on health care. He says that while flights can be had for as little as $350 roundtrip during offseasons, the cost can be much higher the rest of the year.

In the saddle.


Martin Farber

Health care: Farber, who has permanent resident status in Costa Rica, says he pays about $90 per month to participate in the country’s health-care system — adding that the health care he’s received has been very good. (A 2018 study of health-care quality and access in more than 190 nations ranked Costa Rica No. 62.)

When he developed a detached retina, though, he paid for the procedure out of pocket so that he didn’t have to wait for the required surgery, he says — adding that the entire procedure cost him about $5,000. “I would have had to have waited four days,” he says, if he had not paid to expedite matters. “That might have been fine, but it might not.” And he adds that the quality of care depends on where you get it in the country.

Lifestyle: Though Farber says that he “moved here with no goals and no agenda,” he’s found plenty to do. “I take Spanish lessons two days a week for two hours a day. It’s been great. I never thought I would acquire a usable language in my 60s,” he says. He also rides his bike all around the area, does some writing and belongs to a community group that undertakes projects to improve the area.

And he often simply takes in nature, which he says has been an essential part of why he feels calmer and more relaxed in Costa Rica than in the U.S. “I live at 3,000 feet but in a valley surrounded by coffee fields and lime trees and water. At night, if I open the windows, I can hear the river rushing by,” he says. “It is very calming … hundreds of trees everywhere … you know the Earth is alive.”

The historic Iglesia de San José de Orosi.


iStock

Cons: “I don’t want to overglorify. It’s not without its problems,” Farber says of Costa Rica. “There are social problems and downsides.” He notes that crime and petty theft can be a problem (“I am cautious,” he says of his approach) and seem to have increased since he moved there, and adds that he misses out on some cultural things because of where he lives. And, he says with a laugh, “I can’t order Thai food at 9 at night.” But, he adds: “These are trade-offs — in the afternoon, I get to walk in the coffee fields and see flocks of parrots.”

Residency: To qualify for Costa Rica’s pensionado visa, expats must prove that they have a pension of at least $1,000 coming in each month. (Here are the details of that program.) Once you have lived in Costa Rica for three years, you can apply for permanent residency. Farber used a lawyer to help him figure out the ins and outs of residency options; his entire path to permanent residency took about a year, he says.

The bottom line: “After five years I am still amazed and surprised that I made the decision to lead a life I never thought I would,” he says. And while he may not stay in Orosi forever — “the town doesn’t have an ambulance, [and] I don’t know what it will be like to be 80 there,” he says — he does plan to stay in Costa Rica in no small part because of the people and sense of community. “I have the feeling that life is good here,” he says. “It’s hard sometimes, but we are all in it together.”



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Mutual Funds Weekly: These money and investing tips can help you read the market’s signs and stay on your path

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