Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, a veteran stock investor and the founder of the recently launched Akasa Air, died on Sunday morning in Mumbai after a long illness. He was 62.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the promoter of Akasa Air, appeared at the company’s public launch a few days ago. His wife and three children survive him.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was a cult figure in the Indian capital market, known as “India’s Warren Buffet” for his ability to pick up low-priced quality stocks long before they became high performers. Retail investors mimicked his investment strategy.
He was known as the “Big Bull” because he was always upbeat about the Indian growth story. His most recent investment was in the low-cost airline Akasa Air, which began operations last week.
Though the family has yet to issue a statement, Jhunjhunwala is said to have died of kidney failure and multiple organ failure.
People close to him said he had been suffering from diabetes for more than two years. He was mostly in a wheelchair or on the bed. He had also been in and out of Breach Candy hospital for several weeks.
He made all of his investment decisions through his asset management firm, Rare Enterprises. The name of the firm is derived from his first two letters and those of his wife Rekha, who is also a stock market investor.
Forbes estimates Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s net worth at $5.8 billion (approximately 46,000 crore). He was India’s 36th richest person.
“Rakesh Jhunjhunwalla began as a street smart investor who knew how to play on fear and greed,” said Arun Kejriwal, founder of Kejriwal Research, a market analyst. “He was a trader, an investor, and an entrepreneur,” he explained.
“The one important lesson he has taught the market is that no matter how large your position is, you must call it quits when the market goes against you,” he continued.
PM Modi expresses sorrow
Prime Minister Modi paid tribute to Jhunjhunwala and offered condolences to his family on Twitter.
“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was tenacious. He leaves an indelible mark on the financial world, full of life, wit, and insight. He was also very enthusiastic about India’s advancement. His death is heartbreaking. My condolences go out to his family and friends. Mr. Modi wrote, “Om Shanti.”
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable. Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world. He was also very passionate about India’s progress. His passing away is saddening. My condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti. pic.twitter.com/DR2uIiiUb7
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 14, 2022
Akasa Air CEO says, “I can’t thank him enough for believing in us.”
“We are deeply saddened by Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s untimely death this morning.” Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers. “May his soul rest in peace,” Akasa Air, which Jhunjhunwala funded, said in a statement.
“Akasa cannot thank Mr. Jhunjhunwala enough for believing in us early on and placing his trust and faith in us to build a world-class airline.” Mr. Jhunjhunwala had an unbreakable spirit, was deeply passionate about all things Indian, and was deeply concerned about the well-being of our employees and customers. “Akasa Air will strive to run a great airline in order to honour Mr. Jhunjhunwala’s legacy, values, and belief in us,” the airline said in a statement.
— Akasa Air (@AkasaAir) August 14, 2022
Stocks in Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s portfolio include Star Health, Nazara Technologies, Tata Motors, IHCL, Agro Tech Foods, Canara Bank, Escorts, Rallis India, and Titan.
He served on the boards of several companies in which he had a significant stake, including Aptech. He had also invested in a number of start-ups.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Rakesh Jhujhunwala’s family during this difficult time,” said IndiGo through a spokesperson.
“Mr. Jhunjhunwala was a towering figure in India’s financial world,” IndiGo said. “We also commend his recent contribution to Indian aviation with the launch of Akasa Air.”
“He was an inspiring personality who will be greatly missed,” the statement continued.