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# 104 Cyrus Poonawalla $16.7B

Random fact: Bill Gates called him "one of the seven vaccine heroes."


Poonawalla is the chairman of the Serum Institute of India, the world's biggest vaccine manufacturer. The Pune, India-based company had revenue of 378 billion rupees ($5 billion) in the year ended March 31, 2022. The billionaire's other assets include stud farms and properties in Mumbai and Pune.

As of :
Last change +$46.0M ( +0.3%)
YTD change +$2.44B ( +17.2%)
Biggest asset Serum Institute of India
Country / Region India
Age 81
Industry Health Care
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Cyrus Poonawalla's net worth of $16.7B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Poonawalla's fortune is derived from closely held Serum Institute of India, the vaccine maker he founded in 1966. It's the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold globally, according to its website.

The company reported revenue of 378 billion rupees ($5 billion), and net income of 203 billion rupees in the year ended March 31, 2022, according financial results provided by Poonawalla. The billionaire said he owns all of the business.

It's valued using reported financial results and the average price-to-earnings multiple of three publicly traded peers: Biocon Ltd, Cipla Ltd/India and Zydus Lifesciences Ltd.

The billionaire also owns 62% of Poonawalla Fincorp, a provider of car and home loans, according to a December 2021 filing. The company, formerly known as Magma Fincorp, was purchased for $441 million in February 2021.

He also said he owns stud farms, about 250 acres of land and properties, and homes in Mumbai and Pune. Valuations for these assets were provided by Poonawalla in a signed letter.


Family: Widowed, 1 child

Poonawalla started Serum Institute in 1966 in Pune, India, by raising $12,000 selling horses and borrowing the rest from his father, one of the pioneers of thoroughbred breeding in the country. The closely held group supplies low-priced vaccines for immunizations.

Before founding Serum Institute, Poonawalla had considered making race cars. At age 20, Poonawalla and his friend built a $120 prototype sports car modeled on the Jaguar D-Type. He abandoned the idea when he realized that its commercial production would require a huge investment.

A veterinary expert at the family's stud farm suggested Poonawalla take up vaccine manufacturing. The family farm's retired horses were already being donated to the government-owned Haffkine Institute in Mumbai, which made vaccines from horse serum.

In 1966, Poonawalla founded Serum Institute of India and released its therapeutic anti-tetanus serum within two years. The group introduced a vaccine to protect children from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis in 1974, and a serum for snake bites in 1981. 

Serum Institute began production of the Measles Vaccine M-Vac in 1989 and within a year had become the country's largest vaccine maker.

Serum Institute was accredited by the World Health Organization in 1994 to export vaccines from India and started supplying to United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Children's Fund. The Indian company bought Dutch government-run vaccine maker Bilthoven Biologicals in 2012 in its first overseas acquisition. Serum Institute has used the purchase to add the injectable form of polio inoculation to the oral drops the company supplies to organizations.

Poonawalla's wife, Villo, died at age 67 in June 2010. His only son, Adar, is the chief executive officer of Serum Institute.

  • 1966 Sets up Serum Institute of India in Pune.
  • 1994 Gets accredited by the WHO to export vaccines from India.
  • 1999 Becomes the world's largest producer of measles, DTP vaccines.
  • 2010 Offers H1N1 influenza vaccine in pre-filled syringes.
  • 2010 Wife, Villo, dies at age 67.
  • 2012 Bill Gates visits Serum Institute in Pune and meets Poonawalla.
  • 2012 Buys Dutch vaccine company Bilthoven Biologicals.
  • 2015 Pays $120 million for a former maharajah's residence in Mumbai.