Asia’s 25 Richest

China may have passed India in its number of billionaires, but India still has bragging rights as home of the region’s richest. Ten of Asia’s top 25 are Indian. Hong Kong and Japan each have five. Mainland China has just one.

Mukesh Ambani

$29 billion

India

Global ambitions: His Reliance Industries, already India’s most valuable company, recently bid $2 billion for 65% stake in troubled Canadian oil sands outfit Value Creation. Firm’s $14.5 billion offer to buy bankrupt petrochemicals maker LyondellBasell was rejected.

Lakshmi Mittal

$28.7 billion

India

London’s richest resident oversees ArcelorMittal, world’s largest steel maker. Net profits fell 75% in 2009. Mittal took 12% pay cut but improved outlook pushed stock up one-third in past year. Looking to expand in his native India; wants to build steel mills in Jharkhad and Orissa but has not received government approval.

Li Ka-shing

$21 billion

Hong Kong

Betting on recovery, upped stakes in publicly traded conglomerates Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa. Through HW, Li is world’s largest operator of container terminals, world’s largest health and beauty retailer by number of outlets, a major supplier of electricity to Hong Kong and a real estate developer. Has a large holding in Canadian oil firm Husky Energy, which recently announced its third discovery in South China Sea.

Lee Shau Kee

$18. 5 billion

Hong Kong

Lee’s wealth rebounded, thanks in part to doubling of share price of Henderson Land Development, the property firm he founded and still heads. Active investor in China, has stakes in such outperfomers as PetroChina, China Shenhua Energy and China Life. Chairman of Hong Kong & China Gas, which distributes gas in more than 90 cities

Kwok family

$17 billion

Hong Kong

Family behind one of Hong Kong’s most storied real estate firms has benefited from rebound in property prices. Eldest brother Walter, who stepped down from 18-year chairmanship of Sun Hung Kai Properties in May 2008 after disputing with his 2 younger siblings, Raymond and Thomas, dropped his lawsuit alleging improper dismissal; he is now a nonexecutive director

Azim Premji

$17 billion

India

Software czar chairs $5.5 billion (revenues) Wipro, country’s third-largest software exporter. Reported jump in net profits in last 2 quarters, signaling a rebound for U.S.-dependent outsourcing giant.

Robert Kuok

$14.5 billion

Malaysia

Onetime rice and sugar trader heads multinational Kuok Group, with interests ranging from shipping to real estate to media. In 2007 merged extensive Malaysian, Indonesian palm oil interests with Singapore’s Wilmar International, run by his nephew; now his most valuable holding.

Anil Ambani

$13.7 billion

India

Estranged brother of Asia’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani, oversees Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, which has interests in telecom, infrastructure and entertainment. His Reliance Power plans to build 13 power plants for $25 billion by 2014. Infrastructure arm is investing $5 billion in new roads and metro systems to be completed by 2012. His entertainment unit has committed $825 million to Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios to co-produce films.

Shashi & Ravi Ruia

$13 billion

India

Brothers’ $15 billion (revenues) Essar Group has weathered downturn and embarked on an expansion drive in all its businesses, including steel, oil and power. As part of global push, refiner Essar Oil bought 50% in Kenya Petroleum Refineries and is negotiating with Royal Dutch Shell to acquire 3 refineries with a total capacity of 25 million tons.

Savitri Jindal

$12.2 billion

India

Nonexecutive chair of the O.P. Jindal Group, a steel and power conglomerate founded by her late husband, Om Prakash Jindal, in 1952. Took over as group head after he died in a helicopter crash in 2005. In his lifetime, patriarch had handed down operations to their 4 sons, Prithviraj, Sajjan, Ratan and Naveen, who today run their independent units

Kushal Pal Singh

$9 billion

India

Chairman of DLF, India’s most valuable property company; its stock rebounded in 2009, reflecting the revival in the real estate market but still lagging the Sensex’s 76% rise. Run by his son Rajiv, who is DLF’s vice chairman. To lure buyers the developer cut prices at some projects.

Kumar Birla

$7.9 billion

India

Head of $29 billion (revenues) commodities conglomerate Aditya Birla Group restructuring group’s cement business, which is to be spun off from flagship Grasim Industries and merged into subsidiary UltraTech Cement.

Sunil Mittal

$7.8 billion

India

His flagship Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile operator with 120 million customers, is looking to establish global footprint. After two failed attempts to buy Africa’s MTN, is negotiating a $10.7 billion deal to buy the African assets of Kuwait’s Zain Group, partly owned by billionaire Nasser Al-Kharafi’s Kharafi Group.

Ananda Krishnan

$7.6 billion

Malaysia

A Tamil Malaysian of Sri Lankan Tamil origin, also referred to as TAK, he graduated from Harvard Business School and started his career as an oil trader. His biggest holding is Maxis Communications, Malaysia’s largest cellphone service provider, with over 11 million subscribers, which went public in November in Malaysia’s largest ever IPO, raising $3.4 billion.

Tadashi Yanai & family

$7.6 billion

Japan

Has vowed to turn his discount clothing chain, Fast Retailing, into world’s leading apparel retailer. Already has stores in New York, Paris; opening in Shanghai and Moscow this year. Hired renowned German minimalist designer Jil Sander to come up with new clothes for his utilitarian brand

Nobutada Saji & family

$7.5 billion

Japan

Plans to merge his family’s drink firm, Suntory, with rival Kirin Holdings fell apart in February, 7 months after discussions began, apparently over valuation. The deal would have created one of the world’s largest food makers and helped the Japanese firms to better compete with internationally

Lee Kun-Hee

$7.2 billion

South Korea

Stepped down as chairman of Samsung Group in April 2008 after 2 decades at helm amid allegations of tax evasion. The group’s biggest company, Samsung Electronics, has seen its stock price soar in last 12 months, boosting Lee’s wealth. South Korea’s largest insurer, Samsung Life Insurance, in which Lee holds 20% stake, expected to go public this year.

Zong Qinghou

$7 billion

China

Mainland China’s richest person. Started a beverage business in a mini-grocery in a school in Hangzhou in 1986; now China’s biggest beverage maker selling bottled water, tea drinks, juice and coffee. Wahaha’s 2009 revenues are estimated to be $6.3 billion

Cheng Yu-tung

$6.8 billion

Hong Kong

Heads conglomerate New World Development, with interests in property, infrastructure, transport, retail, hotel, casino, brokerage and telecom across China and Hong Kong. Wealth has rebounded along with property markets.

Anil Agarwal

$6.4 billion

India

Metals, mining magnate, is facing flak over his business practices. The Church of England recently sold its holding in his London-listed Vedanta Resources on grounds that it wasn’t satisfied by company’s level of respect for human rights, specifically its treatment of tribal people in Eastern India who would be displaced by a proposed mining project.

Akira Mori & family

$6.3 billion

Japan

He and brother Minoru, also a billionaire, inherited initial fortune from father but went their separate ways unable to agree on a business strategy. With his part has continued to build his Mori Trust, owner of office buildings, apartment blocks and hotels in high-rent districts of Tokyo.

Masayoshi Son

$5.9 billion

Japan

Controls Internet and telecom firm SoftBank. Its mobile phone unit, which sells popular iPhones in Japan, outpacing rivals for new subscribers. Sold $2 billion worth of bonds to pay off some of its $21 billion in debt

Joseph Lau

$5.8 billion

Hong Kong

One of Hong Kong’s biggest landlords kept occupancy rates above 90% at his Chinese Estates despite downturn; doing even better amid property rebound. Launched first development in Chengdu.

Terry Gou

$5.5 billion

Taiwan

Chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry, one of world’s largest contract electronics manufacturers. Started company with $7,500 in 1974

Kunio Busujima & family

$5.4 billion

Japan

Founder of Sankyo, the pachinko gambling-machine maker, now run by his son Hideyuki. Newest units feature comic book characters and pop diva Kumi Koda.