Kumar Birla who multiplied his group’s wealth over 26 times , is now facing tough times after Jio’s entry

  • In 20 years, Aditya Birla revenue grew 26-fold from $1.6 billion in 1995 to $41 billion in 2015.
  • However, his telecom business Idea Cellular ran into trouble in 2016.
  • In 2016, Mukesh Ambani led-Reliance Industries disrupted the Indian telecom industry with Jio — hurting all telecom players including Idea.
  • Vodafone Idea posted a net loss of ₹4,874 crore, or over $700 million, in the first quarter of the current financial year.
In 1995, Aditya Vikram Birla passed away suddenly from cancer-related ailment. As expected, investors were nervous of the group’s future. Even so, after a 28-year old Kumar Birla was given the reins of the massive Aditya Birla Group.

The Birla group was shaken at the sudden demise of the chairman and staring at a gloomy future. But the young Kumar wasn’t ready to give up. Two days later, he laid down an agenda, met investors and began his work.

He hasn’t stopped till date as he now runs a $40 billion empire with interests across metals, cement, retail and telecom:

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​In 20 years, Aditya Birla revenue grew 26-fold from $1.6 billion in 1995 to $41 billion in 2015

​In 20 years, Aditya Birla revenue grew 26-fold from $1.6 billion in 1995 to $41 billion in 2015

Net worth in 2019: $11.1 b

The 52-year-old Kumar Mangalam Birla is the 10th richest person in India with a networth of ₹11.1 billion in 2019, according to Forbes. He owns majority stake in the Aditya Birla Group that traces its roots to 1857, which was when the first war of independence began in India.

His family is among the oldest business families in India who started as cotton traders in the 1850s.

The group currently operates in 34 countries with more than 120,000 employees worldwide.

In 20 years, Aditya Birla group’s revenues grew 26-fold from $1.6 billion in 1995 to $41 billion in 2015. As of 31 March, 2019, the group’s revenues were at $48.3 billion. It is India’s third largest conglomerate after Tata Group ($110 billion) and Reliance Industries ($90 billion).


The group constitutes of notable consumer goods brands including Louis Phillipe, Allen Solly, Peter England, and Van Heusen. He is also the chairman of Vodafone-Idea.

​His derives most of his wealth from Aditya Birla Group

​His derives most of his wealth from Aditya Birla Group

Net worth in 2018: $11.8 b

According to Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Aditya Birla Group’s main holdings includes 30% stake in the world's largest aluminium rolling company Hindalco Industries and 32% shares in Grasim Industries, which owns India’s biggest building material producer.

He also has 11% stake in Vodafone Idea, the second largest telecom company in India.

​Birla is the undisputed king of cement in India with mergers and acquisitions

​Birla is the undisputed king of cement in India with mergers and acquisitions

Net worth 2017: $9.5 b

Kumar Mangalam Birla built his empire with a series of mergers and acquisitions.

He bought a majority stake in L&T cement unit in 2003 and later renamed it to UltraTech Cement — which is now a popular cement maker in India.

Last year, his cement company Ultra tech won the ₹7,950 crore bids to takeover debt-laden Binani Cement —- beating billionaire Ajay Piramal. This move sealed Birla’s position as the undisputed king of the cement industry.

However, his telecom business Idea Cellular ran into trouble in 2016.

​Losing the telecom market to Jio

​Losing the telecom market to Jio

Net worth 2016: $6.1 b

In 2016, Mukesh Ambani led-Reliance Industries disrupted the Indian telecom industry with Jio — hurting all telecom players including Idea.

Jio added a whopping 16 million subscribers within the first few months. It started off giving out data connections for free. It still remains one of the cheapest operators in the market.

As predatory pricing hit them, Idea reported six consecutive quarters of loss after Jio’s entry. The company merged with British telecom major Vodafone in August 2018 to fight the aggressive price war in the market. But that doesn’t seem to have worked either.

Trouble for Vodafone-Idea

Trouble for Vodafone-Idea

Net worth 2015: $9 b

Vodafone Idea posted a net loss of ₹4,874 crore, or over $700 million, in the first quarter of the current financial year.

But it is not just cheap data has that hit the company. Airtel and Vodafone Idea may have to shell out ₹50,000 crore together to the Indian government after the latest Supreme Court order that has upheld the demand for adjusted gross revenue (AGR) from Department of Telecom.

Rumours are floating in the market that Vodafone-Idea might shut shop as these payments over and above its existing debt might hurt its chances of survival. If that actually happens, it would be one of those rare incidents when Birla bows out of business.

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