Forbes: Wharton grad 2008’s biggest loser at $30B

A Wharton grad tops the list of billionaires who lost the most bucks last year, according to Forbes.com.

Last March, the publication touted Anil Ambani, who got his Wharton M.B.A. in 1983, as the person whose wealth had grown the most - $23.8 billion - in the previous year.

That windfall catapulted his net worth to $42 billion, making the Indian telecom and utilities mogul the sixth richest person in the world - just one spot behind his brother, Mukesh, the magazine declared.

What a difference a tumultuous year makes.

Anil Ambani "lost $30 billion in the past nine months, more than anyone in the world," according to a new report on Forbes.com.

His brother, who got his M.B.A. at Stanford, also lost more than $20 billion.

The American who lost the most - $24 billion - was casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, a City College of New York dropout reputed to be worth $28 billion in March.

Next on the U.S. list was Warren Buffett, last March's richest person, who lost $16.5 billion as shares fell sharply for his investment company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett, by the way, attended the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School as an undergrad in 1947 and 1948, but left to finish up at the University of Nebraska.

Ambani's ties to Wharton didn't end when he received his master's in 1983.

Currently, he's a member of the business school's Board of Overseers, as well as its Executive Board for Asia.

He was the first recipient of the Wharton Indian Alumni Award, and in 2006, chaired the Wharton Global Alumni Forum in Mumbai, according to the Wharton Alumni Magazine, which included Ambani on a 2007 list, marking the school's 125 years, of 125 "influential alumni and faculty."

Also in 2007, Wharton named the auditorium in Huntsman Hall after Ambani's late father, Dhirubhai, the industrialist who amassed the family fortune that made his sons billionaires.

Most of Anil Ambani's losses came from stock-price declines in Reliance Communications, a telecom venture, "after his estranged brother helped scuttle a deal with African telecom MTN," according to Forbes.

Despite his losses, "don't worry too much" about Ambani, Forbes says. He has a half-billion-dollar deal to develop a new studio with DreamWorks - the company co-founded by Stephen Spielberg (a billionaire who lived in Haddonfield for a while as a child).

Ambani also "remains quite wealthy, worth $12 billion. That's something many others can't claim."

 


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.