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Overseas billionaires too have roots in India

Friday, 9 March 2007 - 5:11pm IST | Agency: PTI

India has emerged as Asia's biggest home to billionaires but there are more people up there on 'dollar mountain' who owe their origin to the country.

NEW DELHI: With 36 of the world's richest calling it home, India has emerged as Asia's biggest home to billionaires but there are more people up there on 'dollar mountain' who owe their origin to the country.

While 36 of the 946 billionaires who feature on the Forbes' list of richest are true blue Indian citizens, there are two people of Indian origin - IT entrepreneur Kavitark Shriram and music equipments czar Amar Bose - who made it to the list from the USA, the world's largest home to billionaires.

Besides, the richest men in Malaysia and Oman -- Ananda Krishnan and PNC Menon, respectively -- both have their roots in India.

Krishnan, ranked 119 in Forbes list with a net worth of six billion dollars, owns the largest telecom and satellite TV firms in Malaysia among his diversified business empire.

His telecom firm Maxis owns stake in Indian cellular operator Aircel. Besides, his satellite TV firm Astro is in talks for a joint venture with India's Sun TV group for foray into the country's satellite pay TV market.

His satellite TV provider Astro serves 36 per cent of Malaysia's TV households, while he also controls racetrack betting and lottery systems in Malaysia via Tanjong Public.

In contrast to Krishnan accumulating his wealth from a diversified business empire, IT guru and one of the founding directors of internet search giant Google, Kavitark Shriram, owes most of his net worth of 1.7 billion dollars to Google.

Born in Madras (now Chennai) and ranked 583rd in Forbes list, Shriram created online shopping platform Junglee, which was later sold to US-based Amazon in 1998. He also worked for Netscape and Amazon before launching Sherpalo in 2000.

He was an early investor and board member of Google but has sold off more than half his shares since public offering 2004. His other investments include Zazzle (custom-designed T shirts, mugs, stamps), PodShow (online radio), and Indian call centre 247Customer.com.

Amar Bose, ranked 664th with a net worth of 1.5 billion dollars, also owes most of his wealth to Bose Corporation and is also known as "Sultan of Sound."

He used to repair radios in high school to keep his family afloat after World War II ate into his father's import business. After earning PhD in electrical engineering from MIT, he founded Bose Corporation in 1964 and his first contracts were with NASA and US military.

Bose introduced first factory-installed car stereo system in 1982 and today is the major supplier for high-end automobiles like Porsche and Mercedes.

Real estate entrepreneur PNC Menon, an Oman citizen who also has a residence in Bangalore, has been ranked at 754th position in Forbes list with a net worth of 1.3 billion USD.

Born in Kerala and a school drop-out, Menon migrated to Oman in 1976 and started an interior decoration business with a partner there.

Getting attracted to opportunity in Indian real estate market, he started Sobha Developers in Bangalore in 1995, which is named after his wife.

Sobha Developers was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange in December 2006, making Menon a billionaire by virtue of his 87 per cent stake in the company.

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