Billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, known as India’s Warren Buffet, passed away on Sunday. The investor, who made his fortune in the stock market, has died aged 62, a week after launching his low-cost airline Agasa Air.
He has a wife and three children. He leaves behind holdings in about three dozen Indian companies and a legacy of one-liners like “Trend is your friend” and “The only rule I have is no rules.”
“All I know is trading and investing. I don’t want to do anything else in life,” Jhunjhunwala told Reuters 10 years ago. “I’ll leave the day I die.” On Monday, he told CNBC that Asia’s third-largest economy is “entering a golden age”, adding that “my fellow Indians are as optimistic as I am”.
Jhunjhunwala has been a huge public supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, praising him on Sunday as “indomitable, full of life, resourceful and intelligent”.
His views on economics and business made him a television celebrity. Jhunjhunwala’s communication skills helped small investors understand how the stock market worked, many businessmen and bankers from Mumbai, India’s financial capital, associated with him for more than 30 years.
Born in Rajasthan and an accountant, Jhunjhunwala started managing an equity trading firm called Rare Enterprises. His net worth is around $6 billion Forbes.
He made his first big profit by buying 5,000 shares in Tata Tea with borrowed money, convinced that markets had underestimated a company’s growth at a time when it was boosting yield. He tripled the money in a few months.
Bigger and better investments followed, including a leveraged bet in iron ore exporter Chesa Goa in the late 1980s. Jhunjhunwala bought shares at Rs 60-65 and sold them at Rs 2,200.
His firm’s investments include several Tata group companies such as Tata Motors, watchmaker Titan, Tata Communications and Indian Hotels Co, which runs Taj Hotels.
Other investments include Indiabulls Housing Finance, Star Health Insurance, Federal Bank and vocational training firm Optech Ltd.
Jhunjhunwala explained that the growth of the Indian stock market since the liberalization of the country’s economy in 1991, a period in which the benchmark Sensex index grew 40-fold, was a key factor in its success.
“Investor, fearless risk taker, great understanding of stock market, clear in communication – a leader in his own right,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted. He had a strong belief in India’s strength and capabilities.
Udai Kotak, CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank and a fellow student of the school and university, Jhunjhunwala said, “Indian stocks are believed to be undervalued. He is right.”
“Beer fanatic. Bacon advocate. Wannabe travel junkie. Social media practitioner. Award-winning gamer. Food lover.”