Akasa Air Founder Rakesh Jhunjhunwala Passes Away
MUMBAI, (IANS) – The stock-market ‘King of Bulls’ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala — the founder of Akasa Air, the India’s newest private airline – passed away here on August 14 morning following a prolonged illness.
He was 62 and is survived by his wife Rekha and three children, who were with him when he breathed his last, even as his demise plunged the stock market players into shock.
A Chartered Accountant by qualification and profession, Jhunjhunwala’s latest venture Akasa Air’s maiden flight took off on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector exactly a week ago.
Ailing for some time, the ‘King of Bulls’ — who preferred to keep a low profile — had shot into the limelight recently for his upcoming new palatial residence in Malabar Hill, south Mumbai.
Running his own company RARE and sitting on the board of several top companies, he was Chairman of Hungama Media and Aptech, besides a Director in Geojit Financial Services, Concord Biotech, Provogue India, Viceroy Hotels, and more.
Often called India’s Warren Buffett, Jhunjhunwala’s estimated net worth was $5.8 billion, making him the 36th richest man in India, and ranking 438 on the Forbes global list, though he had very humble beginnings.
The young broker had started his financial life while in college with an investment of Rs 5,000 in capital in 1985, with his first profit of Rs 5,00,000 the next year.
He had survived many stocks market hiccups during the big stock-market scam of the late Harshad Mehta exposed in 1992, to make it big later.
Earning between Rs 20-25 lakhs profits over the next four years, Jhunjhunwala’s tiny seed investment ultimately multiplied to a staggering Rs 11,000 crore by September 2018, catapulting him into the big league, and rubbing shoulders with the high-and-mighty, and enjoying close relations with the top Indian political leaders.
His newest baby, Akasa Air was co-founded with ex-Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dubey, and the carrier launched operations with two aircraft with flights to 3 cities and has ordered 70 more aircraft.
He was part of a generation of investors who benefitted from the historic 1991 reforms, which opened India’s economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes to Jhunjhunwala, who was steadfastly bullish on Indian stock markets.
“He was very good at reading businesses and had conviction, passion and very blunt opinions about things,” said businessman Motilal Oswal, who set up one of India’s leading brokerages.
Jhunjhunwala had recently backed Akasa Air, India’s newest budget airline, which began operations earlier in August. While the Covid pandemic had ravaged domestic air travel for the past two years, passenger traffic has risen sharply this year.
The son of an income tax officer, Jhunjhunwala has said that he became fascinated with stocks as a child after watching his father balance his market investments.
Jhunjhunwala began investing in the stock market in 1985, when he was 25 years old – he started off with $100 that he had borrowed from a relative, reports say.
He later set up Rare Enterprises – the name was coined from the first two letters of his name and that of his wife Rekha.
He had the reputation of being a risk-taker in his investments, many of which paid off spectacularly.