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From $100 to billions: How Rakesh Jhunjhunwala became an ace investor with Midas touch

NEW DELHI: Ace stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, often referred to as India’s Warren Buffett, died in Mumbai Sunday morning. He was 62.
Jhunjhunwala was brought dead at the Breach Candy hospital early on Sunday morning. Suffering from kidney disease and ischemic heart disease, the hospital certified that cardiac arrest was the cause of his death.
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A self-made trader, investor and businessman, he was also known as the ‘Big Bull’ of Dalal Street. With an estimated net worth of around $5.8 billion (about Rs 46,000 crore), Jhunjhunwala was the 36th richest billionaire in India, according to Forbes’ 2021 listing.

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From $100 to billions
Jhunjhunwala had in previous interviews stated that he became fascinated with stocks as a child after watching his father balance his market investments.
After graduating with honors from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, he borrowed $100 from a brother-in-law in 1985 and began buying shares at age 25.

He earned his first big profit in 1986 when he bought 5,000 shares of Tata Tea at Rs 43 and the stock rose to Rs 143 within three months. In three years, he earned Rs 20-25 lakh.
Acquisition of Titan Ltd. shares was among his most-profitable investments.

He placed his bets in early 2000s on the Tata Group firm that predominantly made watches and was struggling with labor issues. Jhunjhunwala, along with his wife, held about a 4% stake as of June in Titan, which is now India’s biggest jewelry firm.
The stock has surged more than 26,000% since the start of 2005.
“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala believed in India and the sheer potential of the country,” N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons said in a statement. “This conviction led him to consistently make bold decisions throughout his life and career.”

Midas touch
He had the reputation of being a risk-taker in his investments, many of which paid off spectacularly.
He was described as an investor who has “acquired legendary Midas touch by picking winning stocks”.
Jhunjhunwala had investments in more than three dozen companies, the most valuable being watch and jewellery maker Titan, part of the Tata conglomerate.

His portfolio includes companies like Star Health, Rallis India, Escorts, Canara Bank, Indian Hotels Company, Agro Tech Foods, Nazara Technologies and Tata Motors.
He was also the chairman of Hungama Media and Aptech and sat on the board of directors of firms such as Viceroy Hotels, Concord Biotech, Provogue India and Geojit Financial Services.

His 5.05 per cent holding in Titan alone is worth over Rs 11,000 crore. His largest holding is in Aptech Ltd (23.37 per cent), followed by Star Health and Allied Insurance Co Ltd (17.49 per cent), Metro Brands (14.43 per cent), NCC Ltd (2.62 per cent) and Nazara Technologies Ltd (10.03 per cent).
His privately-owned stock trading firm Rare Enterprises derived its name from the first two letters of his name and that of his wife Rekha, who is also a stock market investor.
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.

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