Rakesh Jonghunwala, India’s Warren Buffett, dies at the age of 62

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Stock investor Rakesh Jonghunwala, nicknamed “Indian Warren Buffett” with a net worth of $6 billion, died early Sunday at the age of 62, his family said.

Jhunjhunwala, a chartered accountant from the desert state of Rajasthan, started investing in stocks while in college and went on to run a stock trading company, RARE Enterprises.

“Rakesh Ji died surrounded by his family and close aides,” a family member told Reuters, using the term respect.

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The cause of death was not immediately announced.

Jhunjhunwala, the promoter of India’s newest airline, ultra-low-cost Akasa Air, has appeared at its public launch event. He left behind his wife and three children.

Businessmen and bankers based in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, who interacted with him for more than 30 years, said Jhunjhunwala’s excellent communication skills have helped small investors understand the stock market. His insights into the economy and businesses made him a popular television personality.

Jhunjhunwala’s bets include a number of companies operated by the Tata Group, one of India’s largest conglomerates. This includes Tata Motors (TAMO.NS)watch maker titan (TITN.NS)Tata Communications (TATA.NS) The Indian Hotel Company (IHTL.NS)which operates the Taj Hotels.

Other investments include Indiabulls housing finance (INBF.NS)star health insurance (STAU.NS) And the Federal Bank (FED.NS)

“We are deeply saddened,” Akasa Air, co-founded by Jhunjhunwala, said in a statement. “We at Akasa cannot thank Mr. Jhunjhunwala enough for being an early believer in us and for putting his trust and faith in us to build a world class airline,” he said.

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Senior politicians and business leaders also mourned his death on social media.

“Rakesh Jonghunwala was invincible,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.

“Full of life, intelligent and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the world of finance. He was also very passionate about India’s progress. His death is heartbreaking. My condolences to his family and fans.”

Modi ended with “Om Shanti,” a prayer for peace.

Uday Kotak, CEO of Kotak Mahindra and a friend from school days said Jhunjhunwala “thought India’s stock was undervalued” and he was right.

“Amazingly sharp in understanding financial markets,” he wrote on Twitter. “We talked regularly, and more during COVID. We will miss you, Rakesh!”

(This story paraphrases Buffett’s spelling in the title)

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Additional reporting by Rupham Jane and M. Sriram in Mumbai and Maryinmay Day in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and William Mallard

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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