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Solid foundations

In 2005, when Ajay Piramal's empire was split to allow sister-in-law Urvi Piramal to step out on her own with the group's textiles and real estate businesses in tow, it was an opportunity as well as a challenge for the wife of the late Ashok Piramal. An opportunity because property prices were zooming, company valuations were eye-popping and promoters were making money hand over fist. It was a challenge because Urvi was now on her own, after having sat on the boards of Ajay Piramal's companies for close to two decades.

Urvi might have been on her own, but she isn't alone. Her three sons, Harsh, Rajeev and Nandan, are spearheading the Ashok Piramal Group's businesses, with Urvi playing the mentor and providing the vision. Whilst Harsh looks after textiles and Nandan has forayed into entertainment, it's Rajeev who has been leading the real estate business, Peninsula Land Ltd. (PLL), from the front. And if there were any doubts about the abilities of the mother-son duo, the performance of PLL—during a period in which the real estate mania turned into a painful depression—is a perfect indicator that the Ashok Piramal Group is indeed in good hands.

Consider: For the year-ended March 2009, almost every realty major worth his land bank registered a spectacular fall in profits. The first half of 2009-10 wasn't too different. Net profits of industry bellwether DLF Ltd., for instance, tumbled by 41 per cent and 78 per cent last fiscal and in this year's first half, respectively. Unitech, which raised Rs 4,400 crore through equity issues in two tranches last year, is in the same boat, with its bottom line shrinking by 28 per cent and 57 per cent in those respective periods. Other newly-listed realty majors like Puravankara Projects, Parsvnath Developers and Sobha Developers also took a pounding. Source: Business Today << Back