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Rakesh Jhunjhunwala pledges to give away 25% of his wealth

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Download PDF India's most famous investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala pledges to give away 25% of his wealth, sets a $1 bn corpus target for it 
A August 03, 2011
T The Economic Times
Ahona Ghosh

MUMBAI: Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, India's most famous investor, has pledged to give away 25% of his wealth during his lifetime. He is the fourth Indian businessperson - after Azim Premji, Shiv Nadar and GM Rao - to make a statement of intent to give away a substantial part of their personal wealth to philanthropy.

Rakesh JhunjhunwalaAnnouncing this on Monday evening at an event organised by GiveIndia, a giving facilitator, the 51-year-old said he planned to route all his charity through his R Jhunjhunwala Foundation.

He has set a 2020 corpus target of $1 billion (about Rs 4,400 crore) for his foundation, which is currently inactive. "I treat charity as my fourth child and will divide my wealth equally among all my children," the father of three said.

Jhunjhunwala declined to quantify his net worth, but Forbes magazine, in 2008, had ranked him 1,062 among the world's richest, with an estimated wealth of $1 billion. Although he built his initial fortune on stock trading, he is known today as a long-term investor who follows the value style of stock investing, whose most successful practitioner is Warren Buffett.

Often referred to as India's Buffett, Jhunjhunwala picks up large stakes in companies he thinks have a competitive advantage, ability to scale up, and good management. His multibaggers in the past decade reportedly include Karur Vysya Bank, Praj Industries, Crisil, Titan, HOEL, BEML and Bharat Electronics. In his giving, he now joins Buffett.

Buffett has pledged to give away "more than 99% of my wealth", which is currently valued at about $50 billion. Jhunjhunwala's blueprint for giving reflects shades of Jhunjhunwala the investor.

For example, he plans to hire professionals to manage his foundation. While he declined to state the areas in which he will deploy his wealth, he told ET: "I will support various activities. Whatever is closest to my heart and whichever cause will give the biggest bang for my buck."

The prolific investor's giving pledge comes after the March 2011 India visit by Buffett and Bill Gates, the world's two biggest corporate philanthropists, who urged India's wealthy to direct much more of their wealth to help the disadvantaged. While the duo managed to persuade 59 billionaires in the US to take the 'giving pledge', the response in India was muted.

But now, says Dr K Anji Reddy, founder of Dr Reddy's Laboratories, "These giving pledges have the effect of the Buffett-Gates visit." Jhunjhunwala, however, says: "Their visit is not the primary reason for my pledge, it has more to do with my father." When his father was in college, he did not have enough money for his education, and he completed his B.Com only because a friend paid for his education.

Among the four Indian corporate philanthropists, Jhunjhunwala is the youngest. Nadar and Azim Premji are both 66 while Rao is 61. In September 2010, Nadar, cofounder of the HCL Group, pledged to give away 10% of his wealth to charity.

In December 2010, Wipro Chairman Premji transferred 8.7% of his stake in his company - valued at about $2 billion - to the Azim Premji Foundation, which focuses on education.

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