Family business in Pakistani-V Wazir Ali, Sattar, Gandhara, Nishat, Beco and Gul Ahmed Groups | By Ikram Sehgal


Family business in Pakistani-V Wazir Ali, Sattar, Gandhara, Nishat, Beco and Gul Ahmed Groups

WAZIR Ali: Initially incorporated as the Hyderabad (Sind) Vegetable Oils and Allied Industries Limited at Karachi on 27 June 1953 as a Private Limited Company by the Group Chairman, Syed Wajid Ali Shah, Wazir Ali Industries Limited’s plant was situated in Hyderabad.

Within a short span of time, the Tullo Company, along with Dalda its main competitor in edible oils and ghee, became a highly progressive and a formidable leader in the manufacture of Banaspati ghee.

As a brand name it became a household name in Pakistan. “Amma, Tullo may pakao hamay sehatmand banao”, became a favourite lyric on radio and later TV.

The original name was changed to its present one on 28 May 1959; subsequently it was converted into a Public Limited Company the same year.

Along with other ghee industries Wazir Ali Industries was nationalized on 03 September 1973.

The process of nationalization proved to be a disaster affecting Wazir Ali Industries Limited adversely.

Ultimately the colossal accumulated losses came to Rs 133.000M under state control. On privatisation the original owners offered the highest bid to the Privatisation Commission on 28 October 1992, re-acquiring the control of Wazir Ali Industries Limited under a sale agreement on 19 December 1992.

Sattar: Abdul Sattar Ahmad son of Seth Ahmad Abdul Karim of Jetpur, was one of very few families who took to industries before independence.

When Pakistan was born, Abdul Sattar and his family migrated to Pakistan leaving behind vast moveable and immovable property.

Sattar himself moved to Dhaka where he set up Sattar Match Factory at Shampur, 4 miles from Dacca, Karim Jute Mills, Dacca Jute Mills and Karim Commercial Company.

Ghandhara: Established in Karachi by the General Motors Overseas Distribution in 1953. In February 1963, the company was acquired by Lt Gen (Retd) Habibullah Khan Khattak who renamed it Ghandhara Industries Limited.

The company’s franchises Bedford Vehicles and Toyota were producing buses and cars in 1972.

When the government nationalized Ghandhara Industries and renamed it as the National Motors Limited.

A very successful military leader, Lt Gen Habibullah was one of the few Pakistani officers to command a battalion (1 Bihar) during World War 2.

As Deputy C-in-C in 1959 he was easily the best candidate to be the C-in-C Pakistan Army.

However, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, wary of his tremendous all round capabilities, retired him at the age of 46.

Selling family real estate and farmland holdings he invested in business, becoming one of the most visionary of industrialists in Pakistan, far ahead of his time.

Because of my friendship with Ali, he took a personal interest in giving me invaluable advice about how to go about doing business.

With most of his industries nationalised between 1972 and 1977 he functioned through Bibojee Services.

In 1992 Bibojee Services re-acquired National Motors Limited. The Bibojee companies are now owned by his sons Lt Gen (Retd) Ali Kuli Khan Khattak (an Oxford University graduate), the heirs of late Raza Kuli Khan Khattak, Ahmed Kuli Khan Khattak (Sword of Honour PAF Academy and outstanding combat pilot) and their three sisters.

Very much like what happened to his father, history repeated itself in 1998. Graduating from Royal Military Academy (RMA), Sandhurst, top of the class among foreign students, he went on to have an outstanding military career, extremely well respected in the Army.

Senior most Lt Gen, Ali Kuli was superseded by Mian Nawaz Sharif who felt insecure about Ali’s all around capabilities and chose Gen Musharraf, third in line, the COAS Pakistan Army.

The rest is sorry history. Because of this wrong, atrocious decision we had military rule for 9 years and this nation’s destiny changed for the worse.

As things stand today, it will suffer again tremendously if the Sharif clan reinforces the perception of their choosing a COAS on their known penchant of selecting “factory managers”.

Incidentally all five of today’s contenders have risen to Lt General’s rank on merit, it doesn’t matter who becomes the COAS, why politicise the process?

In 1999, Gen Habibullah opted to go back to their original name Ghandhara. In 2017, Ghandhara Industries made it to ‘Forbes Asia’s 200 Best Under a Billion list’ of companies.

Ali Kuli is easily one of the finest human beings I have had the privilege of knowing. As a close friend I was extremely fortunate to be unanimously elected for nearly two decades one of the few non-family Directors on the Boards of Ghandhara Companies.

Relying on a combination of family and loyal professional management while supporting philanthropy on a large scale, the same formula Gen Habibullah used successfully till he died, today they have re-ventured into many other business and industrial undertakings.

Nishat: Nishat Group is a Pakistani multinational conglomerate company which is based in Lahore, Pakistan.

Business magnate Mian Muhammad Yahya who was born in 1918 in Chiniot was the founding father in 1951.

In 1947 Yahya was running a leather business in Calcutta. Witnessing the momentous changes that swept the Indo-Pak sub-continent and culminated in the emergence of Pakistan, he also chose to migrate to the new country.

Beginning with a cotton export house, he soon branched out into ginning, cotton, jute, textiles and chemicals.

He also served as elected Chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, the prime textile body in country having achieved so much in such a short time, he died very young in 1969 at the age of 51.

Like his father, Mian Mohammad Mansha, the current Chairman of Group, continues spirit of entrepreneurship, raising group to new heights, with investments in banks, cement factories, insurance companies, etc.

Starting as one of the smaller among business houses he has succeeded not only in Nishat surviving but is now one of major names in Pakistan.

Beco: Established by Chaudhry Mohammad Latif in Batala, East Punjab, British India in 1932 Batala Engineering Company (BECO) is based in Lahore after partition.

In December 1947, BECO was allotted Mukand Iron & Steel Works Ltd., an abandoned factory that required reconditioning on a large scale.

It took 3 years for the old Mukand Factory to grow into modern BECO Works. Beco consisted of eight departments; Steel works, steel foundry, steel rolling mills, iron and nonferrous foundry, machine tool shop, diesel engine shop, structural shop, and general engineering shop.

Nationalized in 1972; by 1998 and renamed as Pakistan Engineering Company (PECO). It ran up an acknowledged accumulated loss of Rs.761.58 billion under state control.

Gul Ahmed: The Group began trading in textiles in the early 1900s, entering in the field of manufacturing with the establishment of today’s iconic name of Gul Ahmed Textile Mills Ltd in the year 1953.

The story of textiles in the subcontinent is the story of Gul Ahmed. Since its listing on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) in 1970, the company has been making rapid progress and enjoying a leading position in the world of textiles.

Son of the late Haji Ali Mohammad, the Memon philanthropist and entrepreneur who introduced Pakistan’s first national branded drink Pakola, the present leader of the Group is Bashir Ali Mohammad (born February 6 1947).

As the Chairman of the Gul Ahmed Group and the Pakistan – Britain Advisory Council he has been active in innovation and increasing capacity with modern machinery and futuristic designs that are admired the world over (The Fifth article on the major family business in Pakistan).

—The writer is a defence analyst and security expert, based in Karachi.



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