Billionaire Globetrotting With Indian Leader Modi

glovAfter flying across India on a corporate jet owned by billionaire Gautam Adani prior to last year?s election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is returning the favor.

In New York, Adani sat in the audience as Modi addressed the United Nations. In Canberra, he shared breakfast with Modi and signed business deals. Adani was also in Bhutan, Brazil, Japan, France and — earlier this month — China.

Adani, 52, has traveled with Modi in the past year more than any other billionaire, helping him emerge as the most prominent face of India Inc. to the wider world. His wealth has more than quadrupled since Modi announced his candidacy in September 2013, the biggest gain among the country?s elite.

The Adani Group, founded in 1988, has grown along with Modi?s political stature. The relationship between the two men was forged more than a decade ago in Gujarat, one of India?s wealthiest states.

On the day Modi became chief minister of Gujarat in 2001, Adani Enterprises Ltd. — then his only listed unit — was a trading company with a market value 500 times smaller than Reliance Industries Ltd., which is headed by Mukesh Ambani, India?s richest man.

Shares of Adani Enterprises and his two other listed units — Adani Power Ltd. and Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones Ltd. — have more than tripled on average since Modi became a candidate, outpacing the S&P BSE-100 Index?s 46 percent gain. Their combined market value is now approaching Reliance Industries.

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?They may get a few more projects than if Mr. Modi wasn?t there, but these days you have a transparent process,? said Vibhor Singhal, an analyst with Phillip Securities Ltd. in Mumbai. ?Sentimentally the relationship is positive, but at the end of the day, if that support doesn?t show up on balance sheets, then investors won?t forgive Adani just because of his proximity to Modi.?

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