Gautam Shantilal Adani (born 24 June 1962) is an Indian business tycoon who is the chairman and founder of Adani Group. According to Forbes, his personal wealth is estimated to be $7.1 billion as of September 2014. He founded The Adani Group in 1988 and today it is a globally integrated infrastructure player with businesses spanning coal trading, coal mining, oil & gas exploration, ports, multi-modal logistics, power generation, Agri Infrastructure, edible oil & transmission and gas distribution. With business experience of more than 33 years, Adani is an Indian entrepreneur who has led the Adani group from a modest background to create a $10.4 billion professionally managed empire in a relatively short period of time. He is a first generation entrepreneur. The Adani Group’s business strategy has revolved heavily around excessive leverage and political patronage. As of 2015, they are one of India’s most indebted business groups.
He has also been recognized for establishing the modern Mundra port which was selected as the best port in 2006 by Lloyds. Mundra Port is now India’s largest commercial port to have achieved a new landmark of handling 100 million metric tonnes in FY 13-14.
Gautam Adani was born into a Gujarati Bania family on 24 June 1962 in the Seth ni Pol area located in Ratanpol in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. He is the son of Shantilal and Shanta Adani and has seven siblings. His parents had migrated from the town of Tharad in the eastern part of Gujarat India. He is married to Priti Adani who is a dentist and heads Adani Foundation as a Managing Trustee. They have two sons. He did his schooling from Sheth Chimanlal Nagindas Vidyalaya School in Ahmedabad. Later, he studied at Gujarat University but only till his second year for a bachelor’s degree in Commerce.
Instead of joining his father’s textile unit in Ahmedabad, Adani moved to Mumbai at age 18 with only a few hundred rupees. He started his career working as a diamond sorter at Mahindra Brothers for 2 years and then went on to set up his own diamond brokerage business in Mumbai, India. He has claimed that he made his first million within a year, at the age of 20, a big amount during the 1980s.
Mahasukh Adani, Gautam’s elder brother and an entrepreneur, called Gautam back to Ahmedabad to run his newly purchased plastic factory.
Soon, Gautam Adani began commodity trading by importing polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a key raw material for manufacturing plastic.
Adani, referred to as ‘Gautambhai’, is known for his risk appetite. Former IIM-A director Bakul Dholakia, who is associated with the Adani group’s educational and CSR initiatives said, “In terms of the risk taking appetite and risk absorption capacity there are very few who can match Adani. There are many who take large risks, but very few have the ability to face their adversity with courage and conviction”.
In 1988, he established Adani Exports Limited (now known as the Adani Enterprises Ltd), the flagship company of the Adani Group, that traded in a variety of power and agricultural commodities. The economic liberalization in 1991 fuelled the rapid growth of the business and the huge profitability of Adani Exports provided further capital for Adani to expand his business.
In 1993, the Government of Gujarat invited private companies to run the Mundra Port and in 1995 the contract was given to Adani Group. Today, Mundra Port is the largest Private Sector port in India, with capability of handling close to 80 million tonnes of cargo per annum.
Adani is also the founder and promoter of Adani Power Ltd (APL), a power business arm of Adani Group. Adani Power has thermal power plants with capacity of 4620 MW, the largest private thermal power producer of the country. It is also the largest solar power producer of India with capacity 648 MW.
The group gives 3 per cent of its profits to the Adani Foundation. He is particularly proud of Adani Vidya Mandir, a school in Ahmedabad which admits only those children whose parents have an annual income less than Rs.1 lakh. The school is run by his wife Priti.
During the time of 2014 Loksabha elections of India, Adani was accused of various controversies. He was being accused of supporting Narendra Modi for his campaign in Bharatiya Janata Party. Even though claiming on national media that he has no special favors with Modi, Modi was seen traveling on Adani group’s chartered planes to rallies across India. To counter this allegation, Mr Adani spoke out in an interview with CNBC and clarified that the BJP paid market price to Adani Group for using its aviation services.
Supposedly, Adani Group was given land at throw away rates for their infrastructure and expansions. He has given an interview to NDTV journalist. In the interview, it is claimed that Adani was given the land at a price three time lower than the market price then.