Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, ‘India’s Warren Buffett’, dies at 62

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India’s best-known stock investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, nicknamed the country’s Warren Buffett, died on Sunday, prompting a flurry of tributes to the self-made billionaire whose fortunes also pulled the country’s economy up.

Jhunjhunwala died at age 62, a week after the launch of his budget airline, Akasa Air.

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The cause of his death was not identified at the time of publishing this article.

He leaves his wife and three children. As an investor, he leaves stakes in about three dozen Indian companies and a legacy of citing phrases like “the trend is your friend” and “the only rule I have is that there are no rules”.

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“All I know is trading and investing. I don’t want to do anything else with my life,” Jhunjhunwala told Reuters 10 years ago. “I will give up the day I die.”

On Monday, he told CNBC-TV that India’s economy, Asia’s third-largest, was “entering a golden age”, expressing hope that “my fellow Indians will be as optimistic as I am”.

Jhunjhunwala was a big public supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who praised him on Sunday as “indomitable, full of life, witty and insightful”.

Jhunjhunwala’s communication skills helped small investors understand the stock market, said entrepreneurs and bankers, who have interacted with him for more than 30 years. His insights into the economy and business made him a TV celebrity.

Born in the state of Rajasthan and trained in accredited accounting, Jhunjhunwala became interested in stocks as a teenager and went on to manage a stock trading company, RARE Enterprises. His net worth was around $6 billion, according to Forbes.

He made his first big profit by buying 5,000 shares of Tata Tea with borrowed money, confident that the markets had underestimated the potential of a company looking to grow at a time of rising yield production. He tripled his money in just a few months.

Bigger and better investments followed, including a leveraged bet in the late 1980s in iron ore exporter Sesa Goa. Jhunjhunwala bought the shares for 60-65 rupees and sold them at 2,200 rupees.

His company’s investments include many Tata Group companies such as Tata Motors, Titan, Tata Communications and Indian Hotels, which manages the Taj Hotels.

Other investments include Indiabulls Housing Finance, Star Health Insurance, Federal Bank and vocational training company Aptech Ltd.

Jhunjhunwala told Reuters that the growth of the Indian stock market since the country’s economy was liberalized in 1991 – a period when the main Sensex index rose about 40 times – was a big factor in its success.

“Investor, bold risk taker, masterful understanding of the stock market, clear in communication – a leader in his own right,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wrote in a tribute on Twitter. “I had a strong belief in India’s strength and capabilities.”

Uday Kotak, chief executive of Kotak Mahindra Bank, and a school and college classmate, said that Jhunjhunwala “believed India’s stocks were undervalued. He is right”.

Kotak stated on Twitter: “Incredibly keen on understanding financial markets. We talk regularly, even more so during Covid-19. We will miss you Rakesh!”

Source: CNN Brasil

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