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

MUMBAI, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Stock investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, dubbed “India’s Warren Buffett” with an estimated net worth of $6 billion, died early on Sunday at the age of 62, his family said.

A chartered accountant by profession from the desert state of Rajasthan, Jhunjhunwala started dabbling in stocks while in college and went on to manage a stock trading firm, RARE Enterprises.

“Rakesh-ji passed away surrounded by his family and close aides,” a family member told Reuters, using a term for respect.

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The cause of death was not immediately announced.

The promoter of India’s newest airline, the ultra low-cost Akasa Air, Jhunjhunwala appeared days ago at its public launch. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Jhunjhunwala’s excellent communication skills helped small investors understand the stock market, said businessmen and bankers based in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, who had interacted with him for over 30 years. His insights on the economy and companies made him a popular TV celebrity.

Jhunjhunwala’s bets include a number of companies run by the Tata Group, one of India’s largest conglomerates. These include Tata Motors (TAMO.NS)watch maker Titan (TITN.NS)Tata Communications (TATA.NS) and Indian Hotels Co (IHTL.NS)which runs the Taj hotels.

Other investments include Indiabulls Housing Finance (INBF.NS)Star Health Insurance (STAU.NS) and Federal Bank (FED.NS)

“We are deeply saddened,” Akasa Air, which Jhunjhunwala co-founded, said in a statement. “We at Akasa cannot thank Mr. Jhunjhunwala enough for being an early believer in us and putting his trust and faith in us to build a world class airline,” .

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Major politicians and business leaders also mourned his death on social media.

“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.

“Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world. He was also very passionate about India’s progress. His passing away is saddening. My condolences to his family and admirers.”

Modi ended with “Om Shanti”, an invocation of peace.

Uday Kotak, the chief executive of Kotak Mahindra and a friend from school days, said Jhunjhunwala had “believed stock India was undervalued” and that he was right.

“Amazingly sharp in understanding financial markets,” Kotak tweeted. “We spoke regularly, more so during COVID. Will miss you Rakesh!”

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Reporting by Rupam Jain and M. Sriram in Mumbai, and Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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