Jhunjhunwala was reportedly suffering from health issues related to kidney and diabetes. He suffered a cardiac arrest this morning.
With an estimated net worth of around USD 5.8 billion (about Rs 46,000 crore), a self-made trader, investor and businessman, Jhunjhunwala was the 36th richest billionaire in India, as listed by Forbes in 2021. Son of an income tax officer and a chartered accountant by education, he is survived by his wife and three children.
At a time when civil aviation is struggling to make a recovery post pandemic, he co-founded Akasa Air with ex-Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube and former IndiGo head Aditya Ghosh with close to 40 per cent stake with a bullish projection for the future of Indian aviation. “I say I’m prepared for failure,” is how he retorted to those who questioned why he planned to start an airline at a time such as this.
The airline began commercial operations on August 7 with its maiden flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Incidentally, that was also his last public appearance. He was seen cheering the team in his wheelchair.
“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. Mr. Jhunjhunwala had an invincible spirit, was deeply passionate about everything Indian and cared greatly for the well-being of our employees and customers. Akasa Air will honour Mr. Jhunjhunwala’s legacy, values and belief in us by striving to run a great airline,” said Vinay Dube, Founder and CEO at Akasa Air in his condolence message.
“We are deeply saddened by the untimely demise of Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Jhunjhunwala’s family and friends. May his soul rest in peace,” he shared.
Jhunjhunwala was always bullish about India’s stock market. He started his journey in stock markets while still in college. He graduated with honors from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai and began investing with Rs 5,000 in 1985 when the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark index Sensex was at 150. It now trades at over 59,000.
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.
Jhunjhunwala ran a privately-owned stock trading firm called RARE Enterprises. He had investments in more than three dozen companies, including Titan, part of the Tata conglomerate. His 5.05 per cent holding in Titan alone is said to be over Rs 11,000 crore.
His portfolio included 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 was on the board of directors of firms such as Viceroy Hotels, Concord Biotech, Provogue India and Geojit Financial Services.
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).
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable. Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution… https://t.co/AtkyDRUhnc
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1660449684000
Expressing his grief, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met Jhunjhunwala and his wife last year, described him as indomitable, 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. Om Shanti,” Modi tweeted.
Sh Rakesh Jhunjhunwala Ji was not only an astute businessman, but also passionately invested in India’s growth stor… https://t.co/LDDdl2juJn
— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) 1660451635000
“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala ji was not only an astute businessman, but also passionately invested in India’s growth story. He will be remembered for giving India its new airline Akasa Air after more than a decade. My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” said aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in his tweet.
(With agency inputs)