Rakesh Jhunjhunwala: The Bull of all seasons

When I hear Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s name, the first thing that comes to my mind is his love for India; his love for the markets; love for his friends; and his love towards life. Rakesh was more than just a person – and no matter however you try to describe him, fact remains that he was a very unique personality.

Rakesh was an India bhakt (worshipper), and a great believer in the ‘India story’. He would fight with anybody who spoke against India. He was a terrific India storyteller, a terrific believer. But above all, he was a great human being.

One of the best things about him was that he wanted people, his friends, and the masses at large, to make money… And that’s why, despite having no interest in television interviews, he was all over the media. He would go against his own norms to help people make money.

That was the spirit of the man.

Deep down, he was a philanthropist and always marinated that 25-30 per cent of his earnings must go towards charity. I had known him since 1988, and since then I have been seeing his conviction on India, his conviction on stocks, conviction on the state of the market. He would always say it’s not about making money, but about being right. He always believed in predicting about the companies, about the economy, about the world. So, at some level, he was an economic philosopher as well.

Rakesh had a tremendous sense of . He was always so much ahead of time in the stock he had bet on – courtesy his extensive research – that he was almost a visionary when it came to predicting a stock’s trajectory. He could see it was a writing on the wall. He would be fearless, and share his investments.

Unlike many, Rakesh would not hesitate in disclosing his positions. He would always tell the stocks he bought, how much he bought, the price, and the reason behind his purchase. So, in that sense, he was a private investor, investing his own money. And that was also the reason for the kind of risk he took, and the kind of conviction he brought on the table.

I remember him buying Titan in 2002-03 with great conviction. He had a tremendous liking for Tata Group companies. Titan was an investment bet in 2002-03. There was some broker who wanted to get rid of 25-50 lakh shares. And he found in him a buyer; he was always a bargain hunter. Back then, he may have not imagined what the stock might become. All he knew was that he was buying a high-quality company at a great price. Since then, one success led to another, and he kept increasing his position.

I believe Rakesh had a sixth sense, or some sort of intuitive foresight. And even though we were partners in crime in the sense that we both were bulls; I would say that no one could come close to him in the ‘Bull race’. On a scale of one to 100, there was just one ‘Big Bull’ in the – and that was Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, and all other bulls would come after that.

He has had so many blessings from all his friends, because Rakesh always tried to help them. Be it money or guidance, his friends could always consult him on anything. That made him prolific. He was a terrific leader, and a brilliant chartered accountant.

Jhunjhunwala: The Bull of all seasons

Rakesh was the Perma bull, and a terrific bargain picker/hunter. Since he knew about most Indian companies, he had a terrific sense of tops and bottoms (and when to buy and sell a stock).

So, if one were to continue Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s legacy, she should have faith in India’s story; look for bargains and then harvest your bargain.

I think his recent bet – Akasa Air – is the ultimate bargain. He received the aircraft at such great discounts. This bargain, along with the equity by him and his friends, will form the core of the company. Of course, not all his bargains were great, and he must have paid a price for it. But the good ones were a thousand times better.

Raamdeo Agrawal is co-founder and chairman, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

(As told to Puneet Wadhwa)

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