Rising Demand For Specialty Chemicals Propels Three Newcomers Onto India Rich List 2021
This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of India’s Richest 2021. See the full list here.
India’s makers of specialty chemicals have benefited from a spurt in both domestic and global demand as customers sought to reduce their dependence on China. The sector has grown 12% on a compounded basis over the past five years to $32 billion in 2020. Specialty chemicals are used in everything from medicines to foods to mining. “The chemical industry is the mother of all industries,” says Ravi Goenka, president of the Indian Chemical Council.
The boom has produced three new members of India’s 100 Richest and boosted the fortunes of five others. Ashok Boob, managing director of Pune-based Clean Science and Technology, debuts on the list with a fortune of $2.3 billion. Shares of this producer of chemicals used in sunscreens and diapers have surged 80% since its IPO in July when the company listed at a 98% premium to its issue price.
Clean Science’s profit margin of 39% is one of the highest in the industry. “We work on innovative catalytic processes that are cleaner and are hence cost competitive,” says Boob, who cofounded the company with his brother Krishnakumar Boob and nephew Siddharth Sikchi in 2006. Revenue rose 22% to 5.1 billion rupees ($69 million) in the year ended in March from a year earlier.
Deepak Mehta, chairman of Deepak Nitrite, makes his debut with a net worth of $2.05 billion thanks to a threefold rise in the company’s stock price amid rising demand for phenol, used in laminates, plywoods and paints. The company, founded by his father in 1970, is investing 11 billion rupees to expand capacity in its home state of Gujarat.
Huge demand for amines used in pharma and agrochemicals boosted Yogesh Kothari’s wealth. The managing director of Alkyl Amines Chemicals joins the list with a net worth of $1.94 billion. Shares of his Mumbai-based company, which posted a 25% rise in revenue to 12.5 billion rupees in fiscal 2021, skyrocketed 200% over the past 12 months.
Brothers Chandrakant and Rajendra Gogri of Aarti Industries saw their fortune rise 51% this year to $2.1 billion. The Mumbai maker of benzene-based derivatives used in agrochemicals, pharma and fuel additives, reported a 9% increase in revenue to $687 million in fiscal 2021. The brothers plan to spend 50 billion rupees to build as many as 20 new factories over the next three years and launch 90 new products. “We are a fully backward-integrated company and we are not dependent on China for raw materials,” says Rajendra, chairman of Aarti.
Vinati Organics, the world’s largest producer of a key ingredient for painkillers, saw its share price nearly double to push up the fortune of founder Vinod Saraf by 43% to $2 billion. “The biggest constraint now is logistics and getting container space for exports,” says his daughter Vinati Saraf Mutreja, CEO. “Also, import consignments get held up, but this should be temporary.”
India’s share of the global speciality chemicals market is expected to double to $64 billion by 2025, according to a June report from Mumbai financial services firm Motilal Oswal. Says Indian Chemical Council’s Goenka: “India is at an inflection point now.” But analysts caution that weak infrastructure as well as difficulty in acquiring land for new factories could hamper growth.