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Anand Piramal: From chasing dreams to 'realty', the scion's journey as a businessman

Anand Piramal wants to make Piramal Realty one of the top three real estate companies in India by net asset value by 2020.

twitter-logoPB Jayakumar | May 7, 2018 | Updated 18:59 IST
Anand Piramal: From chasing dreams to 'realty', the scion's journey as a businessman
PC: India Today

When 33-year-old Anand Piramal, son of business tycoon Ajay Piramal and 26-year-old Isha Ambani, daughter of India's richest business man Mukesh Ambani marry, it will be a formal alliance of two close big business families in India.

Anand Piramal is unlike most rich kids who flaunt their wealth with fancy fast cars, expensive clothes and sports. Anand is a prudent and sharp businessman when it comes to business. He lends an aura of soft spoken and non-aggressive personality, who dreams of changing India's social landscape with meaningful interventions.

When Anand returned from his studies, his father directed him to set up a real estate business which the group had exited earlier, rather than taking charge of the ongoing businesses. They were rebuilding after the sale of flagship revenue earner - pharma formulations to multinational Abbott for a record sum of nearly Rs 16,000 crore in 2010.

Though he is an executive director of the Piramal Group and has roles in group strategy, values and organization development, currently, Anand is not directly looking after any of the businesses his father directly looks after - the listed Piramal Enterprises which is into pharma contract manufacturing, critical care, knowledge management, finance and over the counter pharma products or the delisted Piramal Glass. His sister Nandini Piramal is heading the OTC business and her husband Peter D'Young is heading the critical care divisions of Piramal Enterprises.

With his team of 200-250 youngsters at the small Piramal Realty office in Piramal Towers, Anand Piramal made his mark in the past 2-3 years. The paintings on the walls are rustic and convey his connect with rural India. The small visitors' room is designed like the iconic railway stations of Mumbai and Anand is keen to take one around to show the models of his future real estate projects that will come up in Mumbai.

He has a lot of mentors, from high-profile directors who are on the boards of various divisions of Ajay Piramal's businesses to long-term family friends like HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh and would-be father-in-law Mukesh Ambani. Knowingly or unknowingly, Mukesh Ambani's well known penchant for creating huge, world-class engineering facilities in India is reflected in Anand Piramal's vision.

"Residences in India lack the quality and amenities of residences in cities like New York, London or Dubai. We wanted to focus on customer centricity, architectural design, quality, safety and build India's most admired real estate company, admired not just for its scale and profitability," Anand said in an interview with Business Today in August 2017.

For this, Piramal Realty has tied up with global partners to execute projects like architectural innovators KPF, Fosters, Make, HOK, KPF and Callison, international structural consultants Burro Happold, security and transportation experts Max Security and vertical transportation experts Lerch Bates etc. Piramal Realty's board of advisors include HDFC bank Chairman Deepak Parekh, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria, former Emaar CEO Robert D Booth, Ankur A. Sahu, Co-Head - Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs, Tokyo etc.

Even global investors are showing faith in the Piramal scion. New York-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus invested $284 million in July 2015 for a minority stake in Piramal Realty and a month later, financial services giant Goldman Sachs invested another $150 million in the largest investment in India's real estate sector.

Piramal Realty has four big projects under development at Thane, Byculla, Mulund and Bandra Kurla Complex, and the prices of apartments vary from Rs 50 lakhs to Rs 3 crore depending on the location and amenities.  At Thane, Piramal Realty is developing a 32-acre land with residential towers and town homes, supported with commercial, retail, educational, and spiritual centres. At Byculla, the company is developing Piramal Aranya - a 7-acre project consisting of towers up to 62 storeys, overlooking the 60-acre Botanical Gardens. At Mulund, Piramal Revanta is coming up on 8.4 acres of land with 60 storey towers near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. At Kurla, Agastya Corporate Park - a 16.25-acre project in two phases is coming up and is expected to have Rs 5,000 crore revenue from 1.9 million sq ft of leasable area. Despite the sluggish real estate business in the past few years, Piramal Realty made revenues of Rs 1,100 crore in 2016-17, and in the same range during last year.

Like his parents, social upliftment is an area Anand keeps close to his heart. Ever since his college days, Anand has been nurturing the dream of making an impact to change three fundamental shortcomings that block rural India's socio-economic progress - water, health and education. That passion has made Piramal Foundation one of India's largest corporate social responsibility (CSR) spenders and has become a case study at Anand's alma mater Harvard, where he pursued his MBA.

Piramal Swasthya that works on health community outreach programmes through telemedicine and with a network of doctors, paramedics and ambulances services, integrated medical records, tribal health, cancer screening etc, have touched the lives of over 9.4 crore people across 16 states. It alone employs over 4000 people. Piramal Sarvajaal, which works on leveraging technology to bring community-level safe drinking water to the underserved, serves drinking water to over 4.3 lakh people everyday across 16 states through more than 668 purification units and 332 plus water ATMs and helps to generate a total local economy worth over $4 million annually.

Anand is pursuing a big business dream for the time being - he wants to make Piramal Realty among the top three real estate companies in India by net asset value by 2020 - the year his father has set as target to make the group's net asset value reach $20 billion from the currently estimated $8-9 billion.

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