Home / Companies / People /  Mukesh Ambani’s wealth grew most in the world as oil prices plunged

New Delhi/Singapore: Oil’s plunge and the impact on the global economy is hurting many a billionaire. Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani isn’t one of them.

Reliance Industries Ltd, controlled by Ambani, is benefiting from low crude prices as margins swell at the company’s refining complex, the world’s largest.

Ambani’s net worth increased $620 million as of Friday, the most in the world in 2016, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s almost five times more than the second-biggest gainer this year, Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, who’s up $130 million. Among India’s 13 billionaires in the world’s richest 400, Ambani is also the only one to see an increase in his fortune.

Profit for the December quarter, to be announced later Tuesday, is projected to rise to an eight-year high to 6,980 crore, from 5,090 crore a year earlier, according to the median estimate of 16 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Higher refining margins will underpin the performance as oil prices during the quarter were 42% lower on average from the year-earlier period.

That’s attracted investors including BlackRock Inc. to Reliance, making the Mumbai-based company the best performer on the Bloomberg World Oil and Gas Index over the past three months.

“Any increase in refining margin helps Reliance’s profit significantly because that business is the largest contributor to the bottom line," said Sanjeev Panda, Mumbai-based analyst at Sharekhan Ltd. The shares have gained “because of the sharp fall in crude reflecting positively on the margins."

Brent oil has fallen more than 70% in the last 18 months as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) effectively abandoned output limits amid a surplus. The global benchmark crude on Tuesday added 28 cents, or 1%, to $28.83 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 9:26am Singapore time.

Reliance’s shares climbed about 14% in 2015, ending a seven-year jinx of under-performing the S&P BSE Sensex. The stock slid 37% from 2008 through 2014, versus a 35% in India’s benchmark equity gauge, as the company spent billions of dollars to expand its chemicals capacity and plowed $15 billion in a telecom venture.

“Start of projects worth $30 billion across segments will make 2016 the biggest year in Reliance’s history," Vikash Kumar Jain, an analyst at CLSA, wrote in a 4 January note. Bloomberg

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