(From left) Diamond dealer Rashmi Mehta, Srichand Hinduja, Sri Prakash Lohia and Gopi Hinduja at St James's Park, a favourite gathering point at dawn for Indian billionaires who greet each other with the same code: “Ram Nam”
London, March 22: London is becoming a magnet for wealthy Indian entrepreneurs, drawn by the city’s time zone and ideal location between the markets in Asia and America, plus its schools, affordable mansions, sense of security and, not least, an agreeable party scene.
In December 1995, a virtually unknown Lakshmi Mittal emigrated to London from Jakarta and went on to establish, ArcelorMittal, the largest steel company in the world.
Now, Mittal is being joined in London by his brother-in-law, Sri Prakash Lohia, 60, who is married to Seema, the steel tycoon’s younger sister.
Lohia, the Singapore-based chairman of Indorama, the world’s biggest polyester company, has personal wealth estimated at £2.25 billion (Rs 18,450 crore). Like Mittal, he too was born in Calcutta and moved to Indonesia where he developed his business.
Another arrival in London is Rajesh Satija, who, under the Sun & Sand banner, has extensive mining interests in Africa. He has moved to a new home in London’s Mayfair and has been valued at £390m.
Satija, who has a teenage boy and girl, said: “London is a hub of global business activity and the added attraction was a stable environment and a good family life.”
But the most important new face on the Asian business scene in London is that of Lohia. Indorama makes the resin that is turned into the “plastic” bottles used to sell everything from mineral water to Pepsi and Coca Cola.
“Our resins make 200m bottles a day,” Lohia points out. “One in every three bottles in the world is made from our resins.”
“We are in 24 countries,” says Lohia, who finds London ideal as the headquarters for a global operation. “In Europe we have got six plants — in Lithuania, Holland, Italy, Poland, Germany and Ireland. And in America we have got four-five plants…. In UK we have one plant in Workington.”
His turnover is around £6.6bn (Rs 54,120 crore).
Lohia explains the genesis of the company name, “Indorama” — “Indo is for Indonesia and Rama is after the God Rama”.
His younger Bangkok-based brother, Aloke, is involved in the public listed company on a 50-50 basis.
Lohia, who remains vegetarian, describes himself as a “God-fearing Hindu”. He works closely with his Singapore-based son, Amit, 38, who was educated at the Wharton School of Business.
Asked about the values he has bequeathed to his son, Lohia responds: “He is more on computers, figures, numbers, has different ideas…. He can see the tradition, how we run the business. He has to just follow the same.”
Lohia’s entry came too late to be included in the annual Asian Rich List which was due to be released on Friday evening. But Lohia would rank fourth among the 101 wealthiest Asians in the UK behind the Hinduja brothers (£12.5bn) who have replaced Lakshmi Mittal (£11bn) at the top. Third is Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Resources (£3bn).