This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of India’s Richest 2021. See the full list here.
Karsanbhai Patel, whose Nirma is a household name in India’s laundry detergent market, has placed big bets on yet another highly competitive sector: cement. Nuvoco Vistas, Nirma group’s cement arm, which is run by the patriarch’s second son Hiren Patel, raised 50 billion rupees ($685 million) in an IPO in August. The proceeds will be deployed to expand Nuvoco’s current annual capacity of 22 million tonnes by 2 million tonnes.
Nirma diversified into cement in 2014 and built Nuvoco into India’s fifth largest cement maker by capacity, partly through acquisitions. In 2016, the company acquired the Indian assets of French cement maker Lafarge for an enterprise value of $1.4 billion and then bought Kolkata-based Emami Cement last year for about $780 million. Nuvoco faces heavyweight competitors, such as market leader Ultratech, which is four times its size and owned by billionaire Kumar Birla; as well as Shree Cement, controlled by Kolkata billionaire Benu Gopal Bangur.
But Patel is no stranger to marketplace battles. He started out in 1969 making detergents in his backyard, selling them door-to-door on his bicycle, and went on to snatch market share from giants Procter & Gamble and Unilever with his low-cost Nirma. Patel, who took Nirma private in 2012 and has handed the reins to the next generation, saw his net worth rise 11% to $4.2 billion.