What do the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi,the Mumbai Central Railway Station and the Barakhamba Underground Station in Delhi have in common? They were all built by one company…
The Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SP Group) is one of India’s most valuable privately held companies that includes Shapoorji Pallonji and its associate companies. This Mumbai-based business group operates in varied industries such as construction, real estate, shipping, textiles, home appliances and many others, with a turnover exceeding US $2.5 billion.
Its origins, however, are far more humble, having come into existence in 1865 as a small partnership company called Littlewood Pallonji. One of the first projects it did was to construct a pavement at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai. It subsequently built a water reservoir on Malabar Hill, which was to serve the water needs of Mumbai for well over 100 years. Today, the clean water that many of us drink at home through our Eureka Forbes filters is courtesy of one of the group companies of Shapoorji Pallonji.
Over the years, Shapoorji Pallonji has executed a number of projects and is responsible for building many of the landmarks around the Fort area of Mumbai, such as the Hong Kong Bank, the Grindlays Bank, Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange and even the Taj Intercontinental Hotel. When the Taj Mahal Hotel was severely damaged during the terrorist attacks of November 2008, it was the construction prowess of Shapoorji Pallonji that was able to repair and restore the landmark hotel to its old glory. It can in fact be said that the history of the growth of Mumbai, as a city and as a commercial capital of India, is closely interwoven with the history of Shapoorji Pallonji’s growth.
Among its more recent projects, the SP Group has been responsible for the Imperial Towers in Mumbai, the tallest residential building in India. It has also constructed a number of industrial establishments, including a Coca Cola factory in a record seven months and a four-engine testing facility for the Sukhoi 32 in Bengaluru, as well as some iconic buildings abroad including the Sultan of Oman’s palace, the Seat of the Government in Ghana and the Park Towers in Dubai.
These achievements aside, the SP Group has also been a responsible corporate citizen, fulfilling its social responsibility in many ways. For example, it has helped clean and restore a 300-year-old Nayalanka pond in Barasat in West Bengal. It has also conducted camps for organ donation and free eye testing and runs projects to help underprivileged children.
Today, if the SP Group has been successful in areas beyond construction and real estate, it is all due to the quiet determination and assured business manner of one man called Pallonji Mistry, who has been instrumental in growing Shapoorji Pallonji from a small construction firm to a diversified business group with varied business interests.
Pallonji Mistry, the quiet man behind the success of the SP Group, is probably the richest Parsi in the world with a net worth exceeding US $9.7 billion. He is also probably the most low-profile business person in India. Despite owning around 18.4% shares of Tata Sons, making him the largest single shareholder of the Tata Group, he has rarely been seen in public or given an interview to any publication.
Humble and very down to earth, Pallonji Mistry is described by those close to him as a man with no faults. Within the Tata Group, he is known as the phantom of Bombay House for the quiet, unobtrusive manner in which he asserts his authority.
Having retired as Chairman of the SP Group, he has passed on his legacy to his two sons, Shapoor Mistry, who is now the Managing Director of the group, and Cyrus Mistry, who was appointedto take over as Chairman of the Tata Group in December 2012 when Ratan Tata, retired.