A Tribute to The Big Bull

‘Growth comes from chaos not order’

                       -Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

True to his statement, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s shrewd stock picks and bullish outlooks had earned him the title of the ‘Big Bull of India’. 

Born on 5th July 1960, the Indian billionaire business magnate, stock trader and investor was often known as ‘India’s Warren Buffett’. It is said that Jhunjhunwala got interested in stocks after he overheard his father discuss the markets with his friends.. He started investing in stock markets while still studying BCom at Sydenham College in 1985, beginning with a capital of ₹ 5000. After graduating from college he enrolled with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He made his first big profit of ₹ 5 lakh in 1986 when he invested in the shares of Tata Tea. It is estimated that Jhunjhunwala must have earned ₹ 20-25 lakhs  between 1986 and 1989. In 1989, Jhunjhunwala bought 4,00,000 shares of Sesa Goa, a mining company, for ₹1 crore. The iron ore industry was going through depression then, and the company’s stocks were trading at ₹ 25. The shares were sold in three lots- the first 250,000 at ₹65, another lot at ₹175, and the last lot at ₹2,200.

The Big Bull was once a bear in the Harshad Mehta days and made a lot of money under the guidance of Radhakishan Damani shorting stocks post 1992. He is also believed to have filled the void created in the stock market after Harshad Mehta’s arrest.

Jhunjhunwala’s biggest bet was the Titan company. He started acquiring the stock in 2002-03 when it was floating around  ₹3-4. He consistently increased his stake in the company. In 2012, he increased his stake to 10.24%. As of his passing, Jhunjhunwala and his wife Rekha  jointly hold 4,48,50,970 shares, which is 5.05 percent of the total paid-up capital of Titan company. In the last 20 years, this stock has surged from ₹3 to ₹2,500 apiece levels, delivering an 83.250 percent return to its investors. 

In 2003, he started buying the shares of his other favourite stock Lupin when its market cap was around  ₹500 crore. He exited the company in September last year when the market cap was  ₹44,000 crore. 

Jhunjhunwala also started buying CRISIL shares in 2003. Currently, Jhujhunwala and his wife own a 5.48% stake in the rating agency. 

Jhunjhunwala also owned a 17.26% stake in Star Health and Allied Insurance. Jhunjhunwala bought its shares between March 2019 and November 2021 before the company’s initial public offering.

While he was always wary of investing in new-age start-ups, in recent years he has made quite a few investments like that. For example, his 14% stake in footwear retailer Metro Brands which went public last December is worth $400 million today.

In 2003, Jhunjhunwala and his wife also established their own firm Rare enterprises. Rare Enterprises is a private equity investment and asset management firm which invests in sectors such as biotechnology, digital entertainment, education, healthcare and hospitality.

Jhunjhunwala was India’s 36th richest man in 2021 and the 438th richest man in the world.

He has holding in around 19 companies, including Tata Communications, Titan Company, Bilcare, Va Tech Wabag, Federal Bank, and Aptech and his portfolio includes 47 companies like Star Health, Titan, Rallis India, Escorts, Canara Bank, Indian Hotels Company, Agro Tech Foods, Nazara Technologies, Tata Motors- to name a few.

Jhunjhunwala along with Vinay Dube, former CEO of Jet Airways and Go Air and Aditya Ghosh, former President of IndiGo founded the airline Akasa Air which launched its commercial flight operations recently on 7th August. 

The Big Bull was also a philanthropist. He had entered the Edelgive Hurun India Philanthropy list 2021 with an annual donation of Rs 50 crore. He donated 25% of his annual income towards charitable work in the education sector. He was also a trustee of Agastya International Foundation and supported Ashoka University as well. “I have the money, but I do not have the will to spend it. I don’t ask God for more wealth, but to give me the power to give it away,” Jhunjhunwala said at an event organised by Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

When asked about his investment strategy, Jhunjhunwala replied, “buy the right stock and keep sitting on it till the opportune time. Buy when others are selling and sell when others are buying.” He also advised to never invest at unreasonable valuations and avoid running for companies that are in the limelight. 

Jhunjhunwala died of an acute cardiac arrest at 7 am on Sunday, 14th August. His holdings were valued at $4 billion after his death. Condolences poured in after Jhunjhunwala’s death from politicians and businessmen alike.

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, who sadly passed away this morning, will always be remembered for his acute understanding of the stock exchanges of India. He will also be remembered for his jovial personality, his kindness, and his foresightedness,” 

Siya Sharma

SYBSc (2021-2024)

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