Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Investor

No stock market news appears to be complete without the mention of ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Investors, analysts and the media keep a close track of what the Big Bull – as Mr Jhunjhunwala is known in stock market circles – is buying and selling and try to understand where the market is heading.

It is common for reports on market rally or plunge to be peppered with juicy titbits of information about Mr Jhunjhunwala’s stocks. Analysts and market news anchors go endlessly breathless, describing how the Big Bull made Rs 850 crore in flat 10 minutes on the Titan stock or how his bets on PSU stocks NALCO and Canara Bank are playing out on the bourses. Every exit of Mr Jhunjhunwala – often called India’s own Warren Buffett – from the stocks he held is also analysed equally meticulously.

The 61-year-old star investor began dabbling in stocks while he was still a student of Mumbai’s Sydenham College in the mid-1980s. Son of an Income Tax officer, young Jhunjhunwala developed interest in the stock market, listening to his father discussing stocks and shares with his friends.

In 1985, Mr Jhunjhunwala, a chartered accountant by training, entered the stock market as a full-fledged investor. He began with an initial capital of Rs 5,000 in 1985 when the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark index, the BSE Sensex, was at 150 points. Three-and-a-half decades later, the index has surged past 61,000. And the Big Bull’s net worth has crossed over Rs 43,660 crore.

From the very beginning, his risk-taking ability, imagination and wisdom earned him huge profits. His first big profit was Rs 5,00,000 which he earned on the Tata Tea stock in 1986. Since then, his profits have been multiplying manifold, making him the man with a Midas touch and catapulting him as the 36th richest Indian, according to the Forbes magazine.

Once a powerful bear during the Harshad Mehta days, Mr Jhunjhunwala had made a fortune by shorting stocks after the securities scam in 1992. In later years, he transformed into a bull, became the Big Bull and continues to be highly bullish about the Indian economy and the markets. In 2003, he set up his privately-owned, stock-trading firm RaRe Enterprises. The name RaRe is a portmanteau of the first two letters of his name, ‘Rakesh’, and those of his wife, ‘Rekha’.

When not glued to the fluctuating stock prices on his computer screen, Mr Jhunjhunwala turns to the silver screen. A movie buff, he has co-produced several Bollywood films, including the popular, Sridevi-starrer English Vinglish. He is also a big foodie who enjoys Chinese cuisine and watching cooking shows. A philanthropist at heart, Mr Jhunjhunwala has been generously donating 25 per cent of his earnings to charity.

Perhaps his biggest bet in recent times is Akasa Air, an ultra-low-cost airline that is likely to take to the skies next year. It is quite brave on Mr Jhunjhunwala’s part to have put in around Rs 260 crore for a 40 per cent stake in the new airline at a time when the Indian aviation industry is in the doldrums. Not for nothing is he called the Big Bull.

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