Billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, locally known as India’s Warren Buffett due to his penchant for equity investing, has died. He was 62.
The veteran stock market investor was a self-made trader, and invested in several established businesses and startups, including the country’s newest airline Akasa Air. Known for his selection of stocks for long-term investing, Jhunjhunwala was among the most influential market voices in India.
While equity investments in the world’s second-most populous nation are yet to emerge as a major source of household savings and form less than 5% of assets, the south Asian nation has in recent years experienced a frenzy of retail investments in the equity market.
Jhunjhunwala, known as “Big Bull” in India, said in an interview with Bloomberg in 2005 that his strategy of picking stocks ahead of their growth cycle was inspired by US billionaire George Soros and Hong Kong investor Marc Faber, while Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett was one of his role models.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was instrumental in taking some privately held companies public, including Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd. and gaming firm Nazara Technologies Ltd. His latest venture was Akasa, which started operations earlier this month.
“He was somebody who could understand how to run companies as well as the market,” said Motilal Oswal, a co-founder of Mumbai-based Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd., one of India’s biggest brokerages. “That’s very rare about him. Some of his big investments happened in recent years, when he was nearing 60s and wasn’t keeping well.”
Jhunjhunwala developed a childhood fascination for stocks by watching his father, a retired tax commissioner, juggle market investments, he said in the interview. 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.
A Mumbai resident, Jhunjhunwala also invested through his firm Rare Enterprises Pvt. He is survived by his wife, Rekha Jhunjhunwala, and three children, according to media reports.