Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Pride of the community

Pride of the community
C. Sivasankaran, better known as Siva in close circles, is a serial entrepreneur as well as the chairman of Sterling group now renamed as the Siva group. He has a net worth of more than $4 billion and is one of the richest Indians.

Sivasankaran is known for his audacious business plans, ability to think ahead of the times, business acumen and knack of spotting opportunities early. He is regarded as having pioneered the broadband and wi-fi technology in the sub-continent. He regularly hits the headlines for buying and selling companies.

Sivasankaran was born in Chennai in 1957. He started out as a fabrication contractor for MRL (now CPCL). He bought Sterling Computers from Robert Amritraj, father of the tennis star, Vijay Amritraj, in the 80s. He created a sensation in the hardware circle by selling PCs for as low as Rs 33,000. Back then in the 1980s computers cost as much as Rs 80,000 per computer. However, he could not sustain his early success and shut down the company. "Not to make a profit is a sin. But to be sentimentally attached to a business for ever is foolish," is an oft-quoted remark of his.

In 1996, Sivasankaran purchased Rapper M.C. Hammer's house in Fremont, California, establishing a U.S. base of operations. Previously, he had been living and operating his business empire from various hotels in Singapore, most prominently the Presidential Suites in Singapore's Ritz Carlton and Pan Pacific Hotels which he took over under long-term leases. The very next year, he launched Aircel, a telecom company based out of Chennai. In 1998, he incorporated Dishnet DSL, the country�s first DSL internet provider. He sold the internet service division of DishnetDSL Limited to VSNL for Rs 270 cr.

In April 2004, Sivasankaran bought 65.4% equity stake in Barista coffee chain from Turner Morrison for Rs 30 cr and the Tata group. He entered the health food business with Aiwo - a health food chain specialising in low-calorie food cooked in olive oil.

Later he bought out RPG Cellular Limited for Rs 208 cr and renamed it Aircel Cellular. It was later sold to Maxis for more than a billion dollars. He hit the headlines again when he bought a 49% stake in Aamby Valley a posh high priced township near Mumbai.

Sivasankaran has also funded Kalaignar TV started by Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi. He made a foray into shipping and logistics by acquiring Norwegian shipping firm J.B. Ugland Shipping. There were more deals in 2010 as Siva bought a 10% stake in Indore based Ruchi Soya Limited and a 50% stake in a Norwegian mineral water company.

Siva's message to his employees published in his official corporate website throws light on his thinking: "Foresight, early emergence and relentless forward momentum have always helped us in our quest for value and a sustainable model of growth and achievement. We continuously explore, create and adopt new paradigms, to keep our organization ahead of the curve. This approach has kept us at the forefront of business value creation for the past three decades."
நன்றி: Muthaliyar Matrimony

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