Friday December 08, 2023

'India's Warren Buffet' dies days after airline launch

Calling 62-year-old billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala "indomitable", Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoes tributes from other senior officials, tweeting that the death of the tycoon was "saddening"

August 14, 2022
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Photo: Twitter/@virendersehwag
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Photo: Twitter/@virendersehwag  

MUMBAI: Colourful stock market billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala — dubbed by local media India's Warren Buffet — has died, his office said Sunday, just a week after he launched the country's newest airline.

Calling the 62-year-old "indomitable", Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoed tributes from other senior officials, tweeting that the death of the tycoon was "saddening."

The "Big Bull of Dalal Street" — the Wall Street of Mumbai — had a net worth of $3.5 billion with significant holdings in more than 30 Indian blue chip stocks.

Jhunjhunwala had invested $35 million for an estimated 40% stake in Akasa Air which made its maiden flight in the Asian country's crowded aviation market last Sunday.

Having made his money betting on stocks and lacking any experience in the airline industry, the decision to enter the capital-intensive sector raised eyebrows.

"A lot of people question why I've started an airline. Rather than answer them, I say I'm prepared for failure," he told an industry event in February.

"It's better to have tried and failed than not tried at all," he said. "I hope to prove people wrong. Now it's become a matter of ego."

"Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world," Modi said.

Jhunjhunwala's office confirmed to AFP that he died on Sunday morning, without giving further details.