Mukesh Ambani, who heads the oil-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries Group, has retained his position as the world's richest Indian with a net worth of $22.60 billion, as per the Forbes India annual rich list.

Despite a fall of $4.4 billion in his net worth over the past one year, Mr. Ambani managed to hold the top slot.

He is followed by steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and technology czar Azim Premji, as per the list published on Thursday by the Indian edition of global business magazine Forbes.

Mr. Mittal was ranked second with a net worth of $19.2 billion, while Mr. Premji was at the third position with $13 billion of net worth, Forbes said.

The 100 richest persons in the country together saw their net worth falling by 20 per cent in one year, to $241 billion, as inflation, corruption scandals and falling stock and currency prices diminished their wealth.

The list comprises 57 billionaires, a dozen less than last year.

Forbes said Mr. Mukesh's younger brother Anil Ambani saw the biggest erosion in his wealth in absolute terms, while power producer Lanco Infratech's Madhusudan Raw was the biggest loser in percentage terms as his net worth fell by 78 per cent in the past one year.

Mr. Anil Ambani's net worth declined by $7.4 billion to $5.90 billion and he “slipped out of the top ten for the first time since his 2004 debut.'' He was ranked 13th in this year's list. In the top-five, Mr. Mukesh Ambani, Mr. Mittal and Mr. Premji were followed by Essar group's Shashi Ruia and Ravi Ruia ($10.2 billion at foruth position) and Savitri Jindal ($9.50 billion at fifth place).

Others in the top ten include Sunil Mittal ($8.80 billion at sixth position), Gautam Adani ($8.2 billion, seventh), Kumar Mangalam Birla ($7.70 billion, eighth), Pallonji Mistry ($7.60 billion, ninth) and Adi Godrej ($6.80 billion, tenth position).

14 new faces

This year's list included 14 new faces and the richest debutante was the founder and CEO of the London-listed oil and gas firm Indus Gas, Ajay Kalsi, at the 38th position with a net worth of $1.39 billion.

Father-son duo Kapil and Rahul Bhatia of travel group InterGlobe Enterprises made their debut at position 51, with a net worth of $1.09 billion after their budget carrier IndiGo became India's third-largest and most profitable airline.

Also debuting on the list was V. G. Siddhartha, ranked 84th with a net worth of $595 million, and founder of coffee shop retail chain Café Coffee Day.

Naazneen Karmali, India Editor of Forbes Asia , said: “This has been a turbulent year for India's richest. Despite the economy growing at close to 8 per cent, a spate of corruption scandals and rising inflation have taken a toll.”

Indrajit Gupta, Editor of Forbes India , said: “Even though it's been another tough year for the wealthiest Indian entrepreneurs on the 2011 India Rich List, the fact that there are as many as 14 new entrants is a clear pointer to the exciting and diverse business opportunities in this part of the world.”

The magazine said that the net worth of persons on the list are based on share prices and exchange rates as on October 12 and privately held companies were valued on the basis of their comparison with similar publicly traded firms. The net worth figures of individuals also include family fortunes, it added. — PTI

The net worth of the top 100-billionaires drops by 20 % as inflation, corruption scandals and falling stock and currency prices diminish their wealth