Meet R Damani: An overnight Billionaire with a midas touch

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We all know and read about the leading businessmen of India. There are the Tatas, the Birlas and the Ambanis. A silent investor, Radhakishan Damani,  recently made it to the Forbes 2017 Billionaire list which the bamboozeled big-wits and anslysts watched in awe!

Marketers had a big day as shares of Avenue Supermart, the parent company of D-Mart opened to a massive 102 percent higher than the issue price. It was the best listing-day performance in 13 years for Avenue Supermarts. At the end, it left D-Mart founder Radhakishan Damani ahead of big business names such as Anil Ambani, Ajay Piramal and Adi Godrej.
Who is R Damani?

A simple stock broker turned entrepreneur, R Damani, is believed to be the man with Midas touch. 61-year-old Damani and his family holds 82 percent stake in the retail chain Avenue Supermarkets, the operators of D-Mart stores. Residing at Altamount Road in South Mumbai, Damani is now worth $5.4 billion that amounts to roughly ₹35,775 crore.

Coming from family into ball bearing business, he entered stock market as a broker and trader in 80s. Known to be a shrewd investor who digs deeper into the company, Damani has always maintained a low-profile. He is popularly known as ‘Mr White and White’ for his love of dressing up in only that colour. He is also known to be a mentor to billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Damani makes no public appearances and doesn’t talk to the press.

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The stellar rise and rise of R Damani

R Damani is a college dropout who entered the stock market in 80s and later joined his brother’s stock broking business after their father’s death. Most of his fortune is built by buying multinational stocks in the ’80s and ’90s.

Report claims that the high point in his career was when he started selling stocks during the Harshad Mehta scam. The sky-rocketing prices meant something was wrong. As the market fell flat on its face, he emerged as a shrewd and intelligent investor who turned out to be profitable. As aforesaid, his focus was MNC stocks.

Known to be a fighter, and lauded for decisions like buying 25 percent stake in the cigarette company VST Industries for 63 crore, which are now worth ₹1200 crore, adds this report. Moreover, Damani assured DHL, owners of Blue Dart about the long-term value of the shares.

In 1999, he bought Apna Bazar franchise and just two year later setup D-Mart. So, it was during early-2000s that Damani launched his first entrepreneurial venture in the form of D-Mart. He is known to craft a long-term plan and that’s the policy he has followed with D-Mart. According to an ET report, there are smaller things like he never leases a property for D-mart and rather buys it.

Value for people and the ability to not go for shortcuts and rather build a value chain and expand slowly is believed to have helped him. Compared to Biyani or others, D-mart still is limited to only 119 stores even after 16 years of its launch.

Another great quality is said to be gauging people. For instance, he convinced Hindustan Unilever executive Neville Noronha to switch and today Noronha sits at the helm of DMart. It should be noted that Noronha doesn’t come from an elite business school.

“D-Mart is now worth substantially more than the combined Rs 24,000 crore market capitalisation of its BSE-listed peers-Future Retail, Trent, V-Mart Retail, Shopper’s Stop and Provogue,” according to The Times of India. After a stellar listing of ₹604 that is more than double the IPO price of ₹299, it further rose to 114 percent to about ₹641.