Isha Ambani is youngest billionaire heiress

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 24, 2008 12:24 hrs

Mumbai: Isha Ambani, daughter of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, is the youngest of the top ten billionaire heiresses ranked by Forbes.

The 16-year-old was ranked second in the list announced by the magazine recently. She is in the final year of her International Baccalaureate programme. Apart from academics, where she has been the recipient of several awards, she has varied interests in sports, arts, business and economy and international issues.

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Topping the list is Vanisha Mittal Bhatia, daughter of Lakshmi Mittal, the fourth-richest person in the world as of March. Perhaps best known for the $60 million wedding her father threw for her in 2004, she now serves as a director on the board of dad's $103 billion (market cap) steel company, ArcelorMittal.

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Her corporate involvement and small family -- she has only one brother -- puts her in good stead to inherit a sizable chunk of her father's fortune.

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Isha, the only daughter of Mukesh Ambani, an Indian billionaire ranked fifth in the world, is second in the list. She is just a teenager but already has her own stake in the family's Reliance Industries, worth about $80 million.

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Isha is actively involved in several pioneering initiatives in the school. She was the organiser and facilitator of 'Paigaam', an Indo-Pakistan peace conference organised by Dhirubhai Ambani International School students. It seeks to build a harmonious relationship with people from across the border, through the exchange of ideas and fact-based debate in the spirit of openness and mutual respect. This is a widely acclaimed unique initiative.

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Forbes looked at the daughters of the 150 richest people, all of whom had a net worth of $6.4 billion or more in March when it last locked in fortunes (all ranks and net worths are from that time).

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"Then we focused on those daughters who come from smaller families, with few or no siblings. Finally, we eliminated anyone whose mothers or fathers had already announced Carnegie-esqe philanthropic pledges," Forbes said .

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Also making the cut are several heiresses who already play an active role in the family empire, a fact that appears to bode well for their chances of inheriting the business as well as a piece of the estate. Leading that group is Delphine Arnault-Gancia, the daughter of Bernard Arnault, the world's 13th richest man, who heads $50 billion (market cap) luxury goods behemoth LVMH. Delphine, who sits on LVMH's board, was named managing director of couture house Christian Dior in April, adding to her roles at sister brands Pucci and Loewe and positioning her as her father's likely successor.

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Another one poised to inherit and lead is Marta Ortega Perez, daughter of Spanish retailer Amancio Ortega. She could choose to live a life of idle pleasures off her presumed cut of his $20.2 billion fortune, but instead she's being groomed to succeed him at the helm of fashion conglomerate Inditex.

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Missing from these rankings are far more visible socialites like Paris Hilton or Amanda Hearst, whose relations to billionaires are more distant, and whose chance of inheriting the family fortune not as great. Even Paris' nightclub-appearance fees wouldn't bring her close to the ranks of these 10 women, the magazine said.

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