10 Weekly Roundup 12 How bank CEOs rake in the big dough 16 Pakistan’s mystery billionaire 22 Why OLX feels hot under the collar?
26 26 Pakistan, promise unfulfilled 30 The next generation eco-friendly construction
36 What separates a great venture from an ordinary enterprise 40 Harley Davidson, the Stallion that goes with a macho image
Managing Editor: Babar Nizami l Joint Editor: Yousaf Nizami l Contributing Editor: Farooq Tirmizi l Business Editor: Agha Akbar Reporters: Farooq Baloch l Kazim Alam l Aisha Arshad l Arshad Hussain l Bilal Hussain l Eleazar Bhatti l Syeda Masooma l Ghulam Abbass l Ahmad Ahmadani l Shehzad Paracha l Director Marketing: Zahid Ali l Regional Heads of Marketing: Muddasir Alam (Khi) l Zulﬁqar Butt (Lhr) l Mudassir Iqbal (Isl) l Layout: Rizwan Ahmad l Illustrator: ZEB l Photographers: Zubair Mehfooz & Imran Gillani lPublishing Editor: Arif Nizami l Business, Economic & Financial news by 'Pakistan Today' Contact: proﬁt@pakistantoday.com.pk
RICH, YES, BUT HOW RICH? The tricky task of calculating net worths in the country
“If you can count your money, you don’t have a billion dollars.” J.Paul Getty orbes Magazine has an obsession with the world’s billionaires. The publication’s relentless pursuit of the “three comma club” is a natural response to market demand. The public wants to know about these near myth-
ical creatures. It might surprise the reader that Forbes lists Pakistan as the largest country in the world that does not have a billionaire. Nonsense, you would say. Of course there are businessmen in the country that would be well over that amount. And what about the corrupt top politicians? Surely they have more than that amount stashed away somewhere?
Well, that list or two whose links your cousin might have WhatsApped you is fake news. And one doesn’t even need to be a seasoned journalist to figure that out. There has actually been no rigorous exercise to that end in the country. There are many challenges in Pakistan when it comes to figuring out the actual worth of individuals. First of all, of course, is the gargantuan black economy, with not much by way of documentation. Surely the bigger businessmen can’t be slotted together with the off-the-books tractor me-
chanics, you ask? Yes, but this lack of documentation still forms the background of such exercises. Then, there is the scarcity of publicly listed companies, making data on assets difficult to come by. Add to this mix the whole (legal) business of setting up off-shore companies and giving away a lot to one’s children at a relatively early stage, and we have on our hands, a state of affairs where we cannot easily determine the total net worth of many people in the country. The gentleman we are profiling in this week’s cover story, who according to sources might be a multi billionaire, has an air of mystery about him, yes. But is the financial situation of the other, more mediafriendly captains of industry and commerce any bit clearer? Beyond a point, it would be conjectures. As financial journalists, of course, we feel that there should be more and more clarity on this front. Not because we’re curious (correction: not only because we’re curious) but because we are for more clarity and numbers in general. In our framework of Asian Values, we might think talking about net worth is crass. It doesn’t have to be if we’re being grown up about it.
FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR
“Energy prices will decrease in the coming days and the country will benefit with the completion of CPEC projects” Adviser to the Prime Minister on Economic Affairs Dr. Miftah Ismail
“It is unfortunate that government has completely ignored the misery of exporters who have their billions of rupees stuck for years” FPCCI President Ghazanfar Bilour
depreciation was witnessed in the Pak rupee against the dollar on March 20th after the central bank’s decision in wake of pressure due to balance of payments, widening current account deficit and dwindling forex reserves. The rupee depreciated Rs7.5 against the US dollar to Rs118.0 in the inter-bank market on 20th March compared to its closing rate of Rs110.5. According to a press release issued by the central bank on Tuesday, the PKR-US$ exchange rate in the interbank market closed at PKR 115 per US$ and witnessed an intra-day high and low of PKR 116.25 per US$ and PKR 110.60 per US$, respectively. The rupee closed at Rs117 against the US dollar in the open market on Tuesday. It added “however, the country’s external Balance of Payments position is under pressure due to the large import bill. This has resulted in a widening of current account deficit which has translated into a demand- supply gap of foreign exchange. This adjustment in exchange rate remains broadly aligned with evolving fundamentals on the external front.”
was the current account deficit recorded during the first eight months of financial year 2017-18 according to data released by State Bank of Pakistan. Data released by SBP revealed the gap was $1.24 billion in February, down by 25 per cent over the preceding month. Current account tracks a country’s overseas transactions, such as net trade, earnings on cross-border investments and transfer payments. The widening deficit in Pakistan’s current account balance is reflective of growing difficulties on the external front of the economy. It widened to $7.4 billion in the first half of the fiscal year, up 1.6 times the gap registered a year ago. Exports of goods amounted to $15.9 billion in July-February, up 12.2 per cent from a year ago. But the corresponding rise in imports, which were worth $35.6 billion, remained 15.9 per cent over the same period. This shows imports are growing at a faster pace than exports, further widening the gap between inflows and outflows. Workers’ remittances rose 3.4 per cent to $12.8 billion at the end of the eight-month period.
Rs81 per million British thermal unit (mmbtu) transportation cost has been computed by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) for transporting Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) to Punjab. As a result, the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) will generate revenues of around Rs25 billion during 2018. But the regulator has also contemplated raising transportation charges to Rs94 per MMBTU due to lower than promised supplies and revise the unit cost. The initially computed transportation charges according to SNGPL took into presumption that RLNG supply into its system would rise from 600 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) to 1,200 mmcfd from start of July 2017. But due to delays in commissioning of 2nd LNG terminal, the RLNG supply in SNGPL’s system couldn’t touch 1,200 mmcfd till December last year. SNGPL hence revised its RLNG sales volume taking updated figures till February 2018 into consideration which contributed to a rise in transportation charge per unit. It also took component of volumetric and financial impact for unaccounted for gas (UFG) losses and determined the RLNG transportation cost at Rs93.63 per mmbtu for FY 2017-18.
“Sectors that entail the greatest inconvenience for customers will benefit most from online transactions” Head of Yayvo Adam Dawood
will be invested by Univer Pakistan for expanding its operations across the country. The major component of the planned $120 million investment would be made to boost manufacturing operations across the company’s four factories across Pakistan over the next two years. Unilever said this investment is evidence of the company’s commitment to enhancing the business throughout Pakistan and indicates the rising update of consumer goods across the country. The Pakistani business of Unilever is considered among the best performing business units of its global chain.
year-on-year increase was registered in oil and transportation imports in first eight months of financial year 2017-18, touching $16.2 billion.This was attributed due to higher grain and crude global prices. The $16.2 billion spent on these three categories amounts to one-third of the total merchandise imports in the period under review. During the July-February period, total petroleum imports increased, 34.9 percent YoY to $9.02 billion according to official data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). Import of crude oil grew 58.3 percent YoY to $2.5 billion, however quantity imported only grew by 28.8 percent, indicating an increase in the price of imports. Petroleum products also recorded 17.2 per cent increase to $4.9 billion during the period under review with the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) surging 87.1 percent YoY to $1.4 billion. Food- the second biggest contributor to the import bill- rose 6.3 per cent YoY to $4.3 billion mainly due to increased palm oil import valuing $1.4 billion, up 13.5 per cent YoY.
grant has been extended by Japan to Pakistan for two projects titled “ The project for Improvement of Airport Security” (Phase-2) and “ The Economic and Social Development Programme (for provision of meteorological equipment).” Considering the challenging security situation faced by Pakistan for the last many years, Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority is in process of re-engineering security of airports and up-gradation of security equipment in line with international standards, so that gradually, every airport of Pakistan will fall in the category of a safe and secure airport of the world. This grant project will definitely help to improve security at international airports of Pakistan through the installation of this equipment. Thus, utilisation of this grant will pave the way to safeguard passengers, their belongings, airlines, and its assets, aircraft, national assets and functionaries from the acts of unlawful interference.
decrease in net profits earned by Pakistan’s banking industry was recorded in 2017, touching Rs157.8 billion. According to the quarterly performance review of the banking sector released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the asset base of the banking sector expanded by 4.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017. The report said that the asset quality improved, liquidity situation stabilised and the solvency level remained robust while the pick-ups in private-sector advances were slow in October-December 2017. Promising demand from textile and cement sectors improved domestic gross advances to the private sector by 7.3 per cent quarter-onquarter and 16.4 percent year-on-year. This was in contrast with debt retirements in chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, it added.
was the share of eco-friendly gas and regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) in power generation during February 2018. Nepra statistics revealed power generation from domestically produced gas and imported LNG rose to 43.17 percent of overall electricity generation in February 2018. This translated into a 6.6 percentage point rise from domestically produced gas and RLNG compared to 36.57 percent in same period last year (SPLY). Almost 24 percent of power generated in February 2018 was from domestically produced gas and 19.20 percent from RLNG, said Nepra’s report. Power generated from imported RLNG was nearly equivalent to cost of electricity produced via furnace oil in power plants. The tariff for RLNG based generation was determined at Rs9.02 per unit, which is nearly twice the cost produced from domestic gas-based power generated which stood at Rs4.71 per unit.
By Kazim Alam
s the curtain coming down on 2017 coincided with his premature exit as CEO of Pakistan’s largest commercial bank, Habib Bank Limited, it may have dealt a pasting to Nauman K. Dar’s ego. His pocketbook, though, didn’t feel the pinch a whit. According to HBL’s detailed financial accounts for 2017 released last week, Dar raked in almost Rs345 million during his last year as CEO – a position he had held since 2012.
His total earnings in 2017 were about 27 percent higher than a year ago. In contrast, the share price of HBL lost nearly 40 percent value during the same period. Net profit by HBL dropped to Rs7 billion in 2017, down 78 per cent from Rs31.8 billion a year ago, mainly due to an unprecedented penalty of Rs24 billion ($225 million) that a US regulator imposed on HBL for its noncompliance with risk management rules in New York. Unconsolidated financial statements show Dar’s regular annual remuneration, including al-
lowances, was Rs99.3 million in 2017, up 22 per cent from a year ago. Separately, he received Rs30 million in 2017 as part of “certain long-term benefits”. He had received the same amount under this head in the preceding year as well. Dar added another Rs45 million to his net worth through leave encashment as he retired on the last day of 2017. But the highest amount he received under any head last year was the “shortterm employee benefit scheme”. Consisting of cash and special bonuses, the scheme determines the award on the basis of an employee’s “evaluation and the bank’s performance during the year”. He received Rs170 million during 2017 in respect of 2016, while in 2016, he received Rs160 million for 2015. No bonus will be payable to Dar in respect of 2017, said the annual report. All in all, the outgoing HBL CEO received Rs344.3 million as compensation in 2017 – a year in which the bank’s net assets shrank by Rs9.3 billion or 5 percent.
Increasingly under the scanner
he issue of hefty CEO pay has increasingly gained public attention since the 2008 financial crisis. In Pakistan, the average annual re-
‘GUIDELINES ON REMUNERATION PRACTICES ISSUED BY THE STATE BANK OF PAKISTAN (SBP) SAY THAT THE COMPENSATION OF BANK CEOS SHOULD BE DEPENDENT ON THE ACHIEVEMENT OF PERFORMANCE BASED ON A RISK-AND-REWARD MATRIX AND QUALITATIVE FACTORS…’ muneration of a bank CEO in 2016 – the latest year for which industry-wide data is available – was Rs77.2 million, a staggering 52.5 times the average salary of a banker in that year. Yet ordinary shareholders seem to have no objection to this practice. Minutes of annual general meetings held by big commercial banks rarely show small shareholders hollering about ‘exorbitant’ CEO pay. According to one stock analyst, shareholding in large banks is usually concentrated within sponsors and institutional investors. For example, local retail investors held only 3.4 per cent shares in HBL at the end of 2016. Majority stakeholders and large investors are not particularly bothered by the symbolism of a CEO’s fat salary, he said. But the fact that the last HBL CEO walked away with leave encashment of Rs45 million besides long- and short-
term benefits of Rs200 million at the end of a tumultuous year is still surprising. After all, guidelines on remuneration practices issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) say that the compensation of bank CEOs should be dependent on the achievement of performance based on a risk-and-reward matrix and qualitative factors, such as legal and regulatory compliance and organisational discipline. In fact, the banking regulator stresses that a CEO’s performance on qualitative factors may override the achievements of quantitative factors. Moreover, the SBP recommends that CEO bonuses should ‘diminish or disappear’ in the event of poor performance. “Subdued or negative financial performance of the institution should generally lead to a considerable contraction of the institution’s total variable compensation taking into account both current compensation and amounts previously earned and withheld under deferred pay arrangements,” the guidelines assert. Speaking to Profit, Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance (PICG) CEO Feroz Rizvi declined to comment about the remuneration of the last HBL CEO. However, he insisted that the board of directors of every corporate entity should ensure that its CEO is held responsible for any ‘fiasco’ that happened on his or her watch.
Share prices down, CEO salaries up
Nauman K. Dar, ex-President and Chief Executive Officer of the Habib Bank Limited (HBL) gestures during a news conference at the head office building in Karachi, Pakistan August 29, 2017. REUTERS
hare prices of five out of the six biggest commercial banks dropped in 2017, thanks to a low interest rate environment. Yet the remuneration of their CEOs, except that of Allied Bank Ltd (ABL), appears to have gone up in 2017.
A year-on-year comparison of CEO remuneration is difficult in the cases of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), United Bank Ltd (UBL) and Bank Alfalah: each of these banks had more than one CEO in 2017. For example, UBL saw a change of command in 2017 when Wajahat Husain resigned as CEO on May 31. Only the ‘severance cost’ of Husain was Rs51.36 million. His regular remuneration in 2016 was Rs144.1 million. He and his successor, Sima Kamil, drew annual remuneration of Rs216.23 million in 2017. Meanwhile, the share price of UBL dropped 22.3 per cent in 2017. As many as three people served as NBP CEO in 2017, with their cumulative remuneration amounting to Rs59.59 million. In contrast, the single CEO during 2016 drew a compensation of Rs49.7 million. The share price of NBP dropped 37.36 per cent in 2017. As for Bank Alfalah, its latest annual report shows it made ex-gratia payments to outgoing executives – including Atif Bajwa who resigned as CEO in July 2017 – amounting to Rs694.47 million as opposed to nil in 2016.
It shows Bajwa and his successor, Nauman Ansari, received a remuneration of Rs119.47 million in 2017 compared to Rs101.6 million that the former received a year ago. Bank Alfalah was the only big-six entity whose share price increased (by 10.6 per cent) in 2017. The remuneration of the MCB CEO
‘UBL SAW A CHANGE OF COMMAND IN 2017 WHEN WAJAHAT HUSAIN RESIGNED AS CEO ON MAY 31. ONLY THE ‘SEVERANCE COST’ OF HUSAIN WAS RS51.36 MILLION. HIS REGULAR REMUNERATION IN 2016 WAS RS144.1 MILLION. HE AND HIS SUCCESSOR, SIMA KAMIL, DREW ANNUAL REMUNERATION OF RS216.23 MILLION IN 2017’ 14
increased 7 percent to Rs95.44 million in 2017 while its share price dropped 11.6 percent over the same 12 months. The CEO of ABL received in 2017 a remuneration of Rs45 million, including Rs17 million in bonus. His total compensation was down 22.2 percent from a year ago, making ABL apparently the only big bank that cut its CEO’s remuneration in 2017. The share price of ABL shed 30 percent value last year. “It’s difficult to say whether a CEO is drawing a high salary. It’s relative,” said Rizvi of PICG. “Bank CEOs also bear a heavier responsibility than the chief executive of any other corporate entity. They’re answerable to their shareholders as well as depositors. Complex roles, higher salaries,” he said. n
By Kazim Alam & Farooq Baloch e’s the Howard Hughes of Pakistan. Nobody ever sees him. You’re the first ones (among journalists) who are going to witness him in the flesh,” said the person who ushered us into a conference room on the second floor of the recently built 26-storey Mega Corporate Tower near Teen Talwar, Clifton. Habibullah Khan is sitting at the head of a large table. With a few loose pages and a smartphone in front of him, he looks very much like a businessman. He stands up to shake our hands. He’s wearing a well-worn pair of glasses and has a Mediterranean tan. In short, nothing in his appearance gives away the fact that he could soon be practically the single largest player in the cement industry with plants in each of the four provinces, that he owns a container terminal, runs the largest shipping and logistics businesses in the country, has just sold a real estate property in the biggest deal of its kind to Habib Bank, and will soon be setting up a six-star international hotel on the most prime piece of land in Karachi that he just acquired. He’s also the largest player in dairy after Nestle and Engro Foods. Most importantly, he’s actively working to acquire a financial institution besides being a huge player in the energy sector, having recently acquired a major stake in Hub Power (Hubco). “I’m the largest private equity player in this market,” he says, adding that three of his companies are among top 30 taxpayers. Very few of his assets are listed, so its difficult to get to an accurate figure regarding his net worth. Apart from a small group of old friends who he socialises with, few Pakistanis are familiar with his name, let alone his face. Yet his numerous businesses play a central economic role in the daily course of events in the life of an average citizen. Like Hughes, an eccentric and one of the richest American businessmen of his time, Khan guards his privacy grudgingly. Google his name and you won’t find even a single interview or photograph on the internet. He avoids the media like a plague. In fact, when he acquires an asset, he ensures that the purchase agreement includes a no-publicity clause. Unlike other businessmen in Pakistan, he almost never sits on boards of the companies he owns (their number runs in dozens) and he prefers to let management, independent members and his son take the lead on boards.
Steering clear of banks nother reason Khan has managed to maintain a low public profile is that none of his assets are borrowed. Instead of borrowing from banks, he uses his own funds to buy companies. The latest example being Hotel Metropole, a nearabandoned hotel complex spread over 4 acres right in the middle of the financial district of Karachi. “It’s not a simple transaction in the sense that there were many legacy issues with the property and financing it would have been a long drawn out affair which would have collapsed the deal”. After all, being liquid and debt-free at the same time is the dream of a private equity guy on a buying spree. Past owners of Hotel Metropole are Zoroastrian, more commonly known as Parsis, a fast ageing and dwindling religious minority that once dominated the commercial landscape of Karachi. Apparently, they had been trying to sell that property for a decade. There were many interested parties, but few had the kind of liquidity and appetite to consummate the transaction fast. Except for Khan. “By the grace of God, within two months we closed the deal,” he says. And what he’s going to do with this prime land surrounded by national landmarks, elite clubs and business centres in the middle of the world’s eighth most populous city? He says he’ll build Pakistan’s first six-star hotel. “We’re going to make a district with four different components. One will be a globally recognized six-star hotel. Next to that we’ll have branded apartments sharing the hotel’s facilities. Then we’ll have an office tower and a utility (centre). We will make a bypass as well, so we create the condition for traffic to move freely around the project and in the area. We want to build a city within the city and we have been working extensively to achieve this,”
“I’LL CREATE WITH MY GOODWILL AND WHATEVER HARD WORK I’VE DONE A MEGA BOND. I’LL ASK PEOPLE TO INVEST RS10 IN THAT BOND SO THAT IN FIVE YEARS, THAT RS10 IS WORTH RS1 MILLION… SO (PEOPLE) CAN EDUCATE THEIR CHILDREN, GET THEM MARRIED, BUY A HOUSE.” HabibullahKhan,Chairman, Mega Conglomerate he says. The company is considering awarding the design contract to renowned BritishIraqi architecture firm Zaha Hadid Architects or Louis Vidal of Spain both of whom have already given their proposal for the complex. A third UK architecture firm is in the running as well. Khan is planning to have a debt-to-equity ratio of 30:70 for the project. He’s going to have a hybrid Sukuk, which is an Islamic bond that promises ownership in a real, tangible asset, such as real estate. “We have already bought the land, which can be a part of the equity. We’ll try to bring in foreign investment. We’ll try to bring sovereign funds to join us in the development because it’s a big project and should go a long way in projecting a positive image of Pakistan and Karachi on an international scale,” he says. That Khan was able to come up with funds to acquire Hotel Metropole in such a short span of time was partly because he had just sold Mega Corporate Tower to HBL which he calls a win-win deal for both parties as property prices have risen significantly because of and after the transaction. He’s also using some of the proceeds from the Mega Corporate Tower sale to partially fund the next real estate project in Lahore. He built Mega Corporate Tower using his own funds. But now he’s tapping into banking
channels to expand further. For instance, his latest acquisition of stakes in Hubco and Dewan Cement are partly financed by banks. Banks lend him happily: the group has strong balance sheets other than that of Mega Conglomerate to borrow against. In fact, Mega Conglomerate is hardly a conglomerate in the sense that it controls only a fraction of the myriad of national businesses that Khan owns in as many as seven industries. As per his own reckoning, Mega Conglomerate represents only a small part of his business empire. “So are you a billionaire in dollar terms?”, we ask. With a sparkle in his eyes, he flings the question back at us: “What do you think?”
His father’s son ike any big conference room in a corporate office, this one too has many large-size windows. But all curtains are drawn. We’re told Khan likes to sit in a room with drawn curtains – another eccentricity that he shares with American aviator Hughes who would stay in a room for months on end and communicate with the outside world only through his staff. Khan describes himself as an “uncomplicated man” with “straightforward requirements”. He operates out of Kharadar, a commercial nerve centre in the old city area. Coming across as simple from an eastern
viewpoint yet sophisticated from a western viewpoint he seems a little different from his fellow big businessmen. But like his father our research tells us he’s also a member of Sind Club, a most exclusive place reserved for men from old, established families with generational wealth. He has no qualms in admitting that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. But his father was a professional, not businessman. Asadullah Khan was Pakistan’s first gas engineer who helped create what today is Sui Gas. “My father was instrumental in setting up the oil and gas industry in Pakistan. During Ayub Khan’s days, he used to represent Pakistan in all the global oil and gas conferences,” he says.
From KGS to London, and back han studied at Karachi Grammar School but moved to boarding school in England when his father left the country in 1972. After completing school, he went to Imperial College in London and was part of the first batch of computer engineers that graduated in 1979. His next stop was the University of California in San Diego where he worked on the Columbia satellite as a computer engineer. Then he went to Berkeley to study management science and industrial engineering. His one-year stint at an American engineering giant Bechtel ended when his boss told him he was ‘too ambitious’. “They said move to Europe, you’ll do much better. They wanted to put me on a platform in Norway. I said forget it. Then I came back to Pakistan,” he says. Khan started off in software and then moved into first textile and then shipping in 1985. “By 2000, we were the largest [in shipping]. We bought Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT), where the DP World is our partner today. We used to control 42 percent of anything that came in and out of this country in containers. Over time, I felt that we needed to diversify so that is when we entered into other businesses,” he says. He used to have 20 container carriers out of which five of the world’s largest global carriers were his partners. Then he expanded into downstream, which means he built his own trucking company and inland container depots.
Buying distressed assets n his latest letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Warren Buffett wrote that major declines offer extraordinary opportunities to those who are not handicapped by debt. Khan says he continues to buy distressed assets using his own money. “I never liked debt. I never borrowed from banks... We bought (QICT at) Port Qasim, distressed; Haleeb, distressed; cement, distressed”. He is the only one who’s actually done large scale M&As (mergers and acquisitions) with his own money. His record of buying distressed assets from banks is so consistent that banks actually go to him when they are stuck with a distressed asset. On his last deal, one of the banks sent him a “Superman” cake. Even Mega Corporate Tower on which he just booked a capital gain was bought from a consortium of banks who had extended a big loan to LG that went into default. Now the market is down again, he says, so he’s looking to continue buying. If he buy’s Dewan Cement, he will be salvaging the largest financial default in the 70-year history of this country. Dewan Cement notified its shareholders on January 31 that Mega Conglomerate showed interest in acquiring 87.5 percent shares in the company. The share price was Rs 26.38 on that day. It closed at Rs 27.29 on March 9. Dewan Cement posted a net profit of Rs1.3 billion in 2016-17, down 13 percent from a year ago. Its total assets amounted to Rs30.2 billion at the end of the last fiscal year. Khan’s approach to reviving a debt-ridden, sick enterprise involves cutting down expenses ruthlessly even if it means laying off people. “If I buy a company that has a lot of debt, the first objective for my CEO is very
simple: my debt has to be zero. I can’t sleep at night (until that happens),” he says. If the deal goes through, Khan’s group will be the first player to have a cement-making plant in each province. This will help the group survive downturns in domestic demand by allowing it to export surplus production, he says. Besides showing interest in acquiring Dewan Cement, Khan has recently acquired a significant stake in Hubco from Dawood Hercules and become the new Chairman of the company as previously stated. The Dewan Cement acquisition was already anticipated because of market talks about another cement company, also owned by Khan, eyeing a stake in the former. However, his purchase of a stake in Hubco, which currently generates 1,200 megawatts, came as a surprise to many, who were left scratching their heads as to what he was up to. “He’s on an acquisition binge,” said one analyst, responding to a question about why Khan would invest in a power company. “He has a lot of liquidity,” said another, referring to Khan’s back-to-back transactions worth almost Rs 31 billion, which not only moved the market but also brought him in the limelight for the first time.
Electricity at slightly above one-third the present price arket analysts may still be guessing the rationale behind his interest in Hubco, but Khan is sure about it. He has bought a stake in the country’s largest independent power producer (IPP) with a plan that Hubco becomes a leader in electricity generation. “We want to work with the management and the board to make Hubco local and Hubco
NOTHING IN HIS APPEARANCE GIVES AWAY THE FACT THAT HE COULD SOON BE PRACTICALLY THE SINGLE LARGEST PLAYER IN THE CEMENT INDUSTRY, THAT HE OWNS A CONTAINER TERMINAL, RUNS THE LARGEST SHIPPING BUSINESSES IN THE COUNTRY, HAS JUST SOLD A REAL ESTATE PROPERTY IN THE BIGGEST DEAL OF ITS KIND TO HABIB BANK, AND WILL SOON BE SETTING UP A SIX-STAR INTERNATIONAL HOTEL ON THE MOST PRIME PIECE OF LAND IN KARACHI. 20
International,” says Khan who has recently taken over the Chairman’s seat, adding that creating a local multinational is something that is needed in today’s global business environment. “We’ll try to go into Africa. We will try to go into other places in the world.” But how will he, given that he doesn’t own an outright majority in the company? As of June 30, 2017, Hubco had five directors from Dawood Hercules and one each from NIT and Fauji Group. “It’s simple,” Khan said, his voice filled with confidence. The board is very competent with institutional investors such as Fauji Foundation and NIT representatives on it and he plans to bring his plans to the board and with their approval have the board guide the management to embark on a growth strategy. “We’ll buy more assets and we’ll collectively put more equity into it [Hubco] if need be, to me it is clear we are all on the same page,” he says of the IPP’s governing body. “We want to generate 20 to 25 percent of the country’s power. That’s the plan,” he says. As we press him to share with Profit his post-acquisition plans for Hubco, Khan says he’d like to bring the electricity cost down and create the right energy mix by adding components of renewable energy to its portfolio. “Today, our average cost is 12.96 cents per kilowatt. Bangladesh is at nine cents, India at 10. We have to come down to eight cents,” Khan says. The country cannot become competitive in local manufacturing or the export market unless it brings the cost down and for that we need to add renewable to our energy mix, he adds. After Hubco’s acquisition, Khan plans to install solar panels and smart meters at the household level. He wants to create a deregulated economy whereby customers will pay him for power consumption and solar panels and eventually become owners of the equipment. Installing solar panels, which don’t come cheap, in one of the world’s largest cities will need a big investment. Khan seems to be aware of that as he plans to issue a bond especially designed for the general public from Hubco’s platform. He also plans to set up a desalination plant and use the company to power that plant and provide water to Karachi; collect waste from the port city; and make regional hubs. “I’ll set up various 30-megawatt plants and give power to households in those areas and that, too, at five cents (a unit). This is what my plan is,” he says, adding that it should all ma-
terialise within two years.
The Haleeb turnaround han’s move to buy Dewan Cement and Hubco is in line with his core strategy: buying a distressed asset at a time when the market is down and turning it into a profitable entity. To understand his strategy, one has to look back at the turnaround of Haleeb Foods Limited (HFL) which he owns. A one-time dairy giant, which had more than half of the packaged milk share till 200607, was bleeding money hand over fist when Mega Conglomerate bought it from Chaudhry Dairies Ltd (CDL). HFL lost focus on white milk conceding market to Engro Foods’ Olper’s, hitting its worst crisis in fiscal year 2008, small wonder then that its share was down to 2% last year as already reported by Profit in a recent article. While buying HFL, Khan did a put or call option with the former owners. He invested a certain amount in the company and allowed CDL’s former management to run it for 18 months and turn it around by meeting the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) he had set. The tradeoff for HFL was that if they failed to meet those KPIs, Khan would exercise his call and take over the management -and that’s exactly what he did. “The day I took over the company we were losing Rs 100 million per month,” Khan says of HFL, which is in the dairy business for 35 years. In 2011-12, HFL reported a loss, but it was back in profit the next year. The new management revamped the company, revised the strategy and turned it around. “Why are you selling yogurt when you’re not making money,” Khan says, recalling his instructions to the new management. “First break even then grow.” When Khan took over management con-
trol, HFL had Rs 4.5 billion in debt, which they removed from their balance sheet. He didn’t spend any money on advertising. Known for his tight control over costs, Khan instructed the new management to lay off about 300 employees. “It was the only way to survive” he says in a matter of fact tone. Though HFL still has a long way to go before it recaptures the share it has lost to competition in white milk, Khan says they are now number one in the tea whitener category as Engro’s Tarang, which had more than 50 per cent share of the market till last year, was hit hard by recent government policies. Profit already covered this in detail in a previous report. Khan bought HFL right after it hit its worst-ever crisis and turned it around after replacing the old management with a new one and that remains his core strategy. “I never buy at the markets peak,” he says. He bought Hubco when the market was down and the government changed its policy, instructing IPPs to move away from furnace oil-based power plants and adopt coal and LNG. Same goes for Dewan Cement, which is a big defaulter.
Love thy banker han may like to stay away from debt and self-finance even massive infrastructure projects. But he loves the idea of owning a bank. After an attempt to buy Meezan Bank in 2013, he’s planning another move to purchase a commercial banking institution. This time around, however, he’s looking at both Islamic and conventional options. “It doesn’t matter, as long as we can enter the financial services sector, Insha Allah.” What matters instead is the size of the bank he wants to acquire. He says he’s looking at any bank that has 600-plus branches. His bank will create debt instruments
LIKE HUGHES, AN ECCENTRIC AND ONE OF THE RICHEST AMERICAN BUSINESSMEN OF HIS TIME, KHAN GUARDS HIS PRIVACY GRUDGINGLY. GOOGLE HIS NAME AND YOU WON’T FIND EVEN A SINGLE INTERVIEW OR PHOTOGRAPH ON THE INTERNET. HE AVOIDS THE MEDIA LIKE A PLAGUE. IN FACT, WHEN HE ACQUIRES AN ASSET, HE ENSURES THAT THE PURCHASE AGREEMENT INCLUDES A NO-PUBLICITY CLAUSE.
“I’LL SET UP VARIOUS 30-MEGAWATT PLANTS AND GIVE POWER TO HOUSEHOLDS IN THOSE AREAS AND THAT, TOO, AT FIVE CENTS (A UNIT). THIS IS WHAT MY PLAN IS,” HE SAYS, ADDING THAT IT SHOULD ALL MATERIALISE WITHIN TWO YEARS and derivatives, things that are not being done too much right now, he adds. He also plans to establish operations in China. “The only difference between my bank and others will be that my model is going to be on systems,” he says while waving his cell phone. “We’ll try to create a great smart thing for people to do whatever they want... We will invest a lot of money on IT and digitalise banking.”
Looking eastward for inspiration dvancing years often make successful people wonder about their legacy. But Khan is thinking beyond funding a hospital, school or mosque, the usual path for seeking solace among ageing local seths. He looks at Ratan Tata and Dhirubhai Ambani of India for inspiration. “I want to be a Tata, so my legacy continues for generations to come,” he says. Secondly, he plans to do what Ambani did in Reliance. “I’ll create with my goodwill and whatever hard work I’ve done a Mega bond. I’ll ask people to invest Rs10 in that bond so that in five years, that Rs10 is worth Rs1 million… so (people) can educate their children, get them married, buy a house.” He’s acutely aware of the fact that very few Pakistani business families have survived the test of time since 1947. People grow rich, they die, and with their death, their name dies, too. He’s lived most part of his life in obscurity. But he wants to bow out in a way that keeps his name alive. “I want to give back to my nation, by them investing in me I want to create trust, security and long term stability in people’s lives.” n
Massive investment in marketing is not translating in revenue while smarter competitors fare better By Faran Bukhari t’s an exciting time to be in Pakistan. We are seeing it in the numbers, in the growth we are getting, and in the content and monetisation, says Bilal Bajwa the Regional Head of OLX for Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan. However, recent figures disclosed by OLX under a litigation revealed that it is actually bleeding – financially. According to the figures, in a bid to penetrate the online marketplace in the country, OLX has spent a whopping $21.6 million on advertisment and promotional activities but only started generating revenue around May 2017, that amounted to a relatively miniscule
$600,000 by the year end. In a conversation with Profit in March last year, the OLX regional head conceded that the buy-and-sell platform was not aiming to generate revenue as of then but was investing heavily on marketing in order to expand its footprint in the Pakistani market. Now he says that the online classified company has been successfully able to monetise and has been generating revenue since May last year. According to him in the past one year OLX has grown from having absolutely no people on the ground in Pakistan, to now having around 60 people. Every single month during this period, OLX has beaten
aggressive revenue targets that it set for itself on a holistic basis, he claims. The online platform attracts around 600,000 daily active users, with 20,000 unique listers, a number that has doubled in the past 24 months. However, figures disclosed under a litigation by the company show that OLX’s promotional expenses amounted to a staggering $3 million in 2016 alone. Assuming a similar amount of promotional expense incurred in 2017 even if one ignores all other expenses suggests an approximate yearly loss of $2.4 million. Interestingly OLX’s business is based on a model different from the other players
in the market, a factor that may be contributing towards a much slower move towards monetisation. The company is based on what is called a ‘horizontal’ business model in the classified industry, which means that the company deals in a number of different categories, rather than limiting itself to a particular niche. Currently there are 14 categories that are listed on the OLX site, ranging from cars to real estate, bikes, mobile phones and pets. “The reason we like this model is that we want to be a part of the user’s journey throughout their life, whatever phase they are in. If you are a college student, you can buy a motorbike, if you have started working or excelling in your career, you buy a car, or when you move into a new city for a job you rent a house, and eventually when you are ready to buy a house, you can do that on OLX as well. So we want to be part of the entire journey of the user. The other benefit we get is users coming in and stumbling on items. You may come for a phone, but when you are there you may realise that a different phone is a lot better and cheaper. Or you may come to buy a car and find an apartment that is on rent. That is the benefit we get and that is why the scale we have is higher than any other player in one category,” explains Bilal Bajwa. However, other players in the online marketplace in Pakistan that are operating on the ‘vertical’ model and deal in a particular niche are better able to specialise and are doing much better in terms of revenue generation and monetisation. “Typically verticals go deeper than what a horizontal classfied does. Since the business model is more specialised, they don't only offer listings but also offer research, reviews, videos and an opportunity to compare different products. These services are generally not available in the horizontal structure,” explains PakWheels CEO Raza Saeed, adding, that OLX’s revenue after such a heavy investment is half of what PakWheels revenue is and less than ten times the revenue of Za-
‘NO OTHER COMPANY IN PAKISTAN IS INVESTING IN MARKETING AS EXTENSIVELY AS OLX. WHEN WE ARE MAKING THIS EFFORT AND WE ARE BRINGING IN USERS AFTER SPENDING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WE HAVE A RIGHT TO PROTECT THE BENEFITS WE REAP FROM IT. IT IS NOT ETHICAL FOR ANOTHER COMPANY TO TRY TO BENEFIT THROUGH US WITHOUT PUTTING IN A SIMILAR KIND OF AN EFFORT’ BilalBajwa,Regional Head, OLX for Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan meen – an online real estate classified, both of which are operating on the vertical model. However, the problem with OLX is not only that it is venturing into too many categories, but that its revenue model is solely based on advertisement. In emerging countries a small number of users pay for the ads and the revenue from advertising is low. Hence, classified businesses in such regions are moving towards a transactionbased model, through which they not only provide consumers a listing service but also help them complete the transaction. In Pakistan, Zameen is partnering with real estate agents and developers and using its marketing muscle to help consumers buy and sell real estate, for which it charges a percentage of the transaction amount as a
‘THE PROBLEM WITH OLX IS NOT ONLY THAT IT IS VENTURING INTO TOO MANY CATEGORIES, BUT THAT ITS REVENUE MODEL IS SOLELY BASED ON ADVERTISEMENT. IN EMERGING COUNTRIES A SMALL NUMBER OF USERS PAY FOR THE ADS AND THE REVENUE FROM ADVERTISING IS LOW’
fee which sometimes amount to around Rs200,000 to Rs500,000 per transaction. Hence, monetisation becomes a lot easier this way. Similarly, Pakwheels, which has traditionally operated on the advertisement model, recently launched a transaction model based pilot project, through which it hopes to further increase its revenues in the future. With no such plans in sight for OLX, chances are that it may further lose to competition in the future. However, in spite of everything, Bilal Bajwa insists that OLX’s current business model is the right way to go forward. “I don’t think there is anyone else in Pakistan that is comparable to us in size. Our android app came out less than two years ago and it has already got five million downloads. As far as the monetisation and the profitability is concerned, we follow our global practices, where we feel that there is a time to invest in the market and then there is a time for profitability. Our initial revenue numbers have exceeded our expectation. “What we have seen is that there is a willingness in the market to pay when the product is good, and in fact in some cases we have tried not to push too aggressively
on monetisation, because we want to make sure that we deliver the right quality to the people,” he says, adding, the company is aiming to be profitable in about 24 months as it will take some time to cover the huge investment in marketing. “Mobile, electronics and cars are the fastest growing categories for OLX at present but our biggest areas of focus for the future are cars and real estate,” said he, signaling an intent to give stiff competition to Zameen and PakWheels in the years to come.
OLX vs PakWheels nother recent development that suggests OLX might be feeling the heat is a complaint filed by the company with the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), accusing PakWheels of using copyrighted watermarked ad images containing the ‘OLX’ logo to further its brand, contacting its customers by using their contact detail posted on OLX’s website and accessing its website’s servers through the use of automated
Advertisement on OLX website clearly showing Pakwheels watermark
‘THE CASE IS A SIGN OF DESPERATION ON THE PART OF OLX AS IT’S LAGGING BEHIND IN REVENUE GENERATION AFTER INVESTING HEAVILY ON MARKETING. OLX CLAIMS THAT PAKWHEELS IS USING ITS PICTURES AND COPYRIGHTED LOGO TO MAKE THE CUSTOMERS THINK THAT WE ARE RELATED TO OLX, WHICH IS ABSURD’ Raza Saeed CEO, PakWheels means, for the purpose of extracting, copying and reproducing data. According to Bilal Bajwa, the complaint is completely justified. “No other company in Pakistan is investing in marketing as extensively as OLX. When we are making this effort and we are bringing in users after spending millions of dollars we have a right to protect the benefits we reap from it. It is not ethical for another company to try to benefit through us without putting in a similar kind of an effort,” he contends. “There are laws which are present in other mature markets around such cyber scamming but sometimes it's hard for us to find legal protection in Pakistan. Some websites contact our users quite often and that creates a bad customer experience. If you are posting a mobile ad online, your expectation is that somebody will call you to buy, and not to convince you to put an ad on their site as well,” he comments without
‘PAKWHEELS CEO RAZA SAEED CLAIMED THAT, OLX AFTER THE FIRST CASE HEARING OFFERED AN OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT TO PAKWHEELS, WHICH THE COMPANY REFUSED. “IT IS EVIDENT FROM THIS THAT OLX KNOWS THAT IT CANNOT WIN IN COURT,” HE COMMENTED’ 24
taking name of any specific website. PakWheels CEO Raza Saeed, however, feels that the case is a sign of desperation on the part of OLX as it’s lagging behind in revenue generation after investing heavily on marketing. “OLX claims that PakWheels is using its pictures and copyrighted logo to make the customers think that we are related to OLX, which is absurd. No competing company would ever like to associate itself with another as this will be bad for its own brand equity. Our users often copy-paste advertisements from one website to another and in such a case the company cannot be held liable,” he argues, adding, the general practice in case of content copying is to serve a notice for its removal to the site committing the violation, however no such notice was received from OLX. Interestingly, similar kind of ads with OLX’s logo over Pakwheels watermarked logo are also present on the OLX website, which can give the company a hard time in pleading its case. OLX Regional Head Bilal Bajwa refused to comment in detail on the case, which is still sub judice. However, PakWheels CEO Raza Saeed claimed that, OLX after the first case hearing offered an out of court settlement to PakWheels, which the company refused. “It is evident from this that OLX knows that it cannot win in court,” he commented. n
Why is the country harnessing just one-fourth of its economic potential at the moment By: Aisha Arshad stablished as far back as the middle of the nineteenth century, 1860 to be precise, the Overseas investors Chamber of Commerce and industry (OiCCi) is the oldest in Pakistan – representing 190 investors from 35 different nations. the OiCCi members are managing companies in 14 different sectors, contributing Rs47 billion in taxes each month, in annual terms constituting 1/3rd to the government exchequer overall. Out of $8.6 billion Fdi in Pakistan in the last five years, the OiCCi members contributed $7.6 billion. despite its large contribution to the country’s economy and its vital role in policy-making, the OiCCi members express concern over the lack of communication with the government and implementation of suggested policies. hence, the negative perception of business environment in this country persists abroad. Profit sat down with general secretary OiCCi, Muhammad abdul aleem and found out that despite their concerns, the chamber members consider Pakistan a potentially strong market and are looking forward to invest over $2 billion every year.
Profit: You have said time and again ‘ease of doing business’ in Pakistan leaves much to be desired. What do you exactly mean by ‘ease of doing business’? Mohammad Abdul Aleem: ease of doing business is a set of statistics which allows the foreign investor to
measure a country’s economy. annually, the World bank releases this index, and it has a strong impact on the decision-making of foreign investors. the index takes into account nine parameters determining a country’s ranking. in 2010, Pakistan was ranked 75 out of 190, now it has regressed to 146. Profit: Why this regression? MAA: the rate at which other countries are improving their system is much greater than ours. though Pakistan maintained the previous benchmarks but it showed little improvement one. Once behind us, countries like afghanistan and india are gaining the lead due to improvement in sectors such as taxation etc. Profit: Any measures being taken to restore Pakistan’s status? MAA: Currently we are collaborating with the World bank team, with both the government sector and private committee on board. We have set our goal to regain and further improve our rank in the top 100 in the ‘ease of doing business’ index. Profit: What are the issues or demands which your members face in ease of doing business? MAA: the major ones relate to tax refund and unpredictable tax policies. due to sudden change in tax policies, the investors are hesitant to invest. Moreover, lack of inter-provincial coordination causes hindrance to the investor. Only recently the Punjab Food authority has issued stringent policies that surpass the Pakistan standard Quality board. such contradic-
tions impact on investor confidence. Profit: Do all the members face such issues or is it just a small percentage? MAA: Not all the members face these issues. According to a report 49 % percent of members say they have faced difficulty in tax refund. Though not all are affected but those who are, however small in percentage, become very irritated. Profit: Could you elaborate which sector is affected? MAA: Almost all the sectors have faced such issues, be it banking, consumer goods, though the latter faces greater issues due to the withholding tax, as they have greater cash flowing out due to this. Profit: What is the alternative if the government eliminates super tax? MAA: It is very hard to eliminate something like this for the government but if they manage to do that, we have suggested broadening the tax base as its alternate. Otherwise, presumably the government may increase the concessional rates on the interest, though internationally there is no such thing as concessional rates. Profit: What measures do you recommend to broaden the tax base? MAA: These days a lot of data is available to the government. We recommend that they monitor a certain class for tax payment. Furthermore, we suggested to send FBR agents in the field to conduct surveys to help highlight the shortcomings of the undocumented sectors. Also to identify which sectors do not pay taxes. The taxation should be cate-
Muhammad Abdul Aleem, OICCI General Secretary gorized and majorly undocumented sector should be brought into the tax base as that is one of the main reasons why government loses large amounts of money. Profit: What will the government get in return to all these demands? MAA: Well, Pakistan would get an increased FDI – making it reach at least 3%. It will attract more foreign investors because it shows a certain stability in policies. A harmony between tax regulations and business regulations should be even-ended. Foreign and domestic investors should have level playing field. Such incentives and initiatives will create more employment too. Profit: From amongst your members which are the top five in terms of FDI?
MAA: This changes every year. Currently telecom and energy sectors are coming up with huge contributions. Still it’s a different story every year as the parameters and conditions keep changing. Profit: And what are the complaints of your top contributing members? MAA: Their complaints are more or less the same as those of other sectors. Firstly, they want the government to take the investors into confidence before making policies; secondly, they want the policies to be long-term – the parent companies do not like the ad-hoc policies that we are used to of locally. And then there’s heavy taxation on telecom sector compared to others, so they have concerns over that as well. Profit: You have repeatedly mentioned lack of communication between the OICCI and the various governments. How does it impact the day-to-day operations of the OICCI members and how does it influence the opinion of foreign investors in Pakistan? MAA: That’s a major issue. We have said it time and again that we don’t want new policies, we want the existing policies to be implemented. The reason we want to talk to the government is because the policies are not implemented. One day they would ban LNG, the next day they would lift the ban. This creates confusion. All the foreign investors seek is a quarterly meeting where we can speak to
the powers-that-be on the top 10 issues. At the least, we would know that the prime minister is aware of our issues. He would know how much of a serious crisis is tax refunds, remittances are not being allowed as efficiently as before and that is arousing concerns to parent companies in Japan, the UK and Switzerland etc. That’s our biggest demand: at the least, listen to us. Make a forum and meet us after a certain period; we are not asking you to do anything, just meet us and think of it as the right of foreign investors who have invested big here. We want government to think of economics as the new mode of politics because it will eventually affect their politics as well. We recently met the chief minister Sindh and found him to be a very reasonable person. He also agreed to our concerns, giving us positive response. Regardless of it translating into action, we have aired our concerns, and we are happy about it. We want the government to constitute a ‘Private Public Business Council’ or ‘Economic Council’ to channelise these meetings. A lot of issues can be solved on the table. Profit: How do the foreign investors look at the political uncertainty, especially with regard to the ouster of the former prime minister? MAA: Concerned they are, yes, but the ones who have already invested are keeping an eye and with reports from the ground not so bad, they remain content. However, obviously no major investment will come for the moment until the next government settles down. So, if I take a new project to them at the moment, there would be no takers – not
because they don’t want to do it but because they would rather wait for now. Secondly, given our history, foreigners are always concerned about a military coup. We have explained to them how things have changed and they need not to worry but the parent company in another country does question about the timing being right. It does create obstacles in selling good projects for this country. But we need to remember there’s a lot of money that investors want to invest in Pakistan but usually they stop during uncertain political time. Post Nawaz Sharif’s ouster, they were cautious but we did not see any decline in the overall performance. You can say they were cautious, there was no panic though. Profit: How much more investment from OICCI members are we looking at in next 2-5 years? MAA: Around $2 billion plus increase would be seen each year but it is linked to the growth of economy in the said time period. We are expecting the economy to grow by 6%+ in the coming years, but it depends on the consumer demand. How much petroleum will be needed, how much growth will be in the energy sector? When the economy grows, our members would benefit and automatically they would invest more. But it would be safe to say at least $2 billion is what we are looking at. And further growth will come from the CPEC as well, which the investors are very happy from. The reason they are happy with the CPEC is that it’s investing in energy and infrastructure. So a company that sells electronic goods, would have boost in sales as well – as the more people have access to en-
‘THAT’S OUR BIGGEST DEMAND: AT THE LEAST, LISTEN TO US. MAKE A FORUM AND MEET US AFTER A CERTAIN PERIOD; WE ARE NOT ASKING YOU TO DO ANYTHING, JUST MEET US AND THINK OF IT AS THE RIGHT OF FOREIGN INVESTORS WHO HAVE INVESTED BIG HERE. WE WANT GOVERNMENT TO THINK OF ECONOMICS AS THE NEW MODE OF POLITICS BECAUSE IT WILL EVENTUALLY AFFECT THEIR POLITICS AS WELL’ Muhammad Abdul Aleem, OICCI General Secretary ergy, the more consumers will be interested in buying such products. And if I am in power generation, my energy consumption would increase. So it’s a cycle. Profit: How do OICCI members look at Pakistan’s 70 million middle income population? MAA: This is a very good selling point. Australia’s population is 30 million, Malaysia stands between 18-20 million and you look at their booming economies. Our per capita income is lower while theirs is higher but it’s growing proportionally to the consumption. The same is the case here and it appeals to the companies. Atlas has invested $100 million in its plant. And the consumers would not just be buying cars or motorbikes, but also petrol, spare parts as well as insurance. So, our insurance companies are looking at that opportunity. It’s a chain, the more the consumers, the more income for companies and thus more investment. We need further investment in oil refinery, petrochemicals, and there’s a lot of growth opportunity in these sectors.
Profit: How do you personally look at the economy? Is it on an upward trajectory? MAA: We see there’s momentum. The best part about our economy is that it’s domestic; so no matter how bad circumstances are, we can still feed ourselves. We do not have that much pressure from outside. The biggest drawback we have is that we are under-selling ourselves. The reason is that we only sell cotton or sugarcane – the raw material. That’s our main issue, we do not add value to our local products and end up selling cheaper than other countries that produce raw material and then export after value addition. Look at Bangladesh. How it buys cotton from us and does so much export after adding value. We think we need to increase our margins and hopefully we’ll be able to grow on the basis of our potential. The reason we ask for a business council is because we want to share these things with the authorities. We need to make policies as per our country’s dynamics. Lately we have given too many concessions to China under FTA etc. due to which our industries were closing down – now the policies have been changed, though. But we do object on the fact that the government realizes these lapses five years later and doesn’t talk to stakeholders before signing the agreements. These days whatever incentives are being given to China by the current government, if they are not beneficial to our interest then the country will suffer whether the same people stay in the office or not after the elections. So, we request the governments to talk to us and politics should not be done at the cost of economics. Whether it’s the N League, the PTI or
‘WE NEED TO SEE HOW INDIA IS ABLE TO GET $16 BILLION IN FDI, AND WHY VIETNAM IS SUCCEEDING. THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO FOCUS ON HOW TO FACILITATE FOREIGN INVESTORS AND TAKE MEASURES THAT WOULD ENCOURAGE THEM FURTHER. THE ISSUE IS THAT IN PAKISTAN THE RIGHT HAND DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THE LEFT IS UP TO’ the PPP in office, we want continuity of policies. If we look at India, their political leadership sat together and determined that there won’t be a policy change and this is their selling point to foreign investors who know that the faces will change but the agendas and policies won’t because they are long term. Profit: Foreign companies often complain about copyright issues and counterfeit products in the market. What is your proposals to deal with such issues? MAA: We have given our suggestions to the government. First of all, it’s a matter of enforcement; we do have very good laws in Pakistan. I was a part of the board that formulated them in 2012. Because of this law, the US removed us from its banned list. The problem is again enforcement; our law enforcers are not well trained on these matters. We have surveyed on this topic, our members have observed that society generally doesn’t realize the importance of copyright and original products – nobody bats an eyelid on the number of fake products out in the market. Recently the government has gotten
strict in tobacco segment as they lost huge revenues last year because of import of fake products. It’s like Unilever imports a shampoo of $99 and some Ahmed Moosa Co. imports the same product in $1 – the government automatically has to bear heavy tax losses. It has become a huge issue now and the FBR is also concerned because they are the one bearing a loss along with the companies. We have suggested to the government to enforce the existing laws, talk to the brand owners and they can help in determining fake products against the original ones. Usually products have a number embossed on its bottom – that number can tell the date, day and even shift in which the product was made – it’s that easy to determine if a product is genuine or not. And we need them to take strict action now as it has gone too far and both the companies and the country suffers losses because of counterfeit products. Profit: Is there anything you would like to add? MAA: I’ll just conclude on this note that the economy is growing at a good pace but we have potential to do much more. We are just harnessing 25% of our potential right now. And we want the media and the government to pay attention to the business sector. We need them to look at how much investment is coming, and if it’s not, then what are the reasons and how can things be improved. We need to see how India is able to get $16 billion in FDI, and why Vietnam is succeeding. The government needs to focus on how to facilitate foreign investors and take measures that would encourage them further. The issue is that in Pakistan the right hand doesn’t know what the left is up to. n
The benefits and savings from green building are many, offsetting the higher investment at the time of construction through comfort and savings? By Bilal Hussain & Usman Hanif
ither hot or very cold, mostly in the extreme, the weather is hardly ever temperate. One’s neighbourhood is hit by water scarcity, the power load-shedding is a permanent nuisance, exacerbated by inflated electricity bills. In this disturbing milieu, the Pakistan Green Building Council (PGBC) has introduced by some newfangled environment-friendly products to alleviate ones misery. A subsidiary of the World Green Building Council, its Pakistan chapter is making an endeavor to familiarise us with eco-friendly building materials in the country. In 2014, a severe heat wave with 48 Celsius temperature struck Karachi and took a death toll ranging between 1,500 to 2,000 people due to dehydration. The conventional house-building materials definitely had an add-on impact on the severity of the environment. Having galloped apace to end the electricity shortfall, the Pakistan government in the last five years has gone after coal hammer and tongs, which is likely to further unbalance an already hugely skewed situation environmentally. That makes following the worldwide phenomenon and going green all the more imperative. All countries are taking steps to ameliorate environmental degradation and promote green inputs and industries, albeit to varying degrees. The developed nations in particular are taking green construction seriously to reduce the burden on environment. "From just one house in 2012 built based on eco-friendly rules, we now have around 12 million square feet area under green construction,” said Aqrab Ali Rana, the PGBC CEO. The PGBC has launched a Pakistanspecific reference guide of green building design and construction. Having followed the specified standards, factories can get a certificate confirming their environment-
Aqrab Ali Rana, CEO, PGBC friendly status. Exporters with green buildings are paid a rebate as reward; for instance, if a company is paid one dollar as subsidy on a pair of trousers when it sells 40,000 pairs, it can pick up a reward of $40,000 each month. That though is not the case in Pakistan. “Back in 2011 and 12, there was rebate on duty on the import of solar equipment like panels etc., but then the present government withdrew that,” Rana said.
Incentives elsewhere, nothing here he governments in other countries, including India across the border, are incentivising green construction in the form of tax rebate for a stipulated period of time. But here the government has not done next to nothing to encourage green construction,” he added. The government-affiliated National Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority
‘PUNJAB AND KPK ARE SPEARHEADING THE RACE IN GREEN CONSTRUCTION IN THE COUNTRY… FOR ITS PART, KPK GOVERNMENT HAS HAS BEEN TAKING SOME INITIATIVES TO TURN SOME OF THEIR GOVERNMENT OFFICES AND NEW STRUCTURES INTO GREEN BUILDINGS’
(NEECA), has even prepared a Pakistan Energy Provision 2011 but it remains unimplemented. The PGBC guidebook is basically an assessment system to grade buildings, which are billed as green. “There are many, who only install LED lights and call their building green. But it doesn’t make them qualify as one. For this, there is a multilevel checklist. We have named the book ‘Sustainability in Energy and Environmental Development (SEED)’. It can help owners and builders to understand how green construction goals – being energy-efficient and environment-friendly can be accomplished.” The Green Guideline has four certification levels, depending upon the thresholds achieved. The silver grade, the lowest denominator, is granted at obtaining points between 40-49, the gold 50-59 at points, platinum 60-69 points, and the top one titanium at 70 and above points. According to Rana, Punjab and KPK are spearheading the race in green construction in the country. “In several projects, private stakeholders have taken the ‘go green’ initiative. Several entities in Punjab and elsewhere, like DHA City, Karachi near Bahria Town, have adopted it by making rules on their own by incentivising future residents if they opt for green materials. For its part, KPK government has has been taking some initiatives to turn some of their government offices and new structures into green buildings.”
The PGBC has been in contact with State Bank of Pakistan since 2012-13 and finally it has now a couple of months back disseminated guidelines to 34 banks. “Gradually individuals and organizations have starting taking green construction seriously and I am hopeful our efforts would be fruitful for the country. We started PGBC in 2009 and the issue is only now being taken seriously,” he said. According to businesswire.com, aluminum’s importance is on the rise due to the use of secondary extrusions, to the extent that demand for green construction is said to be its primary reason. The projected compound annual growth (CAGR) of aluminum globally is said to be 3.43% for 2018-22. Secondary aluminum is recycled aluminum. Having environment-friendly recyclable properties, it is recycled after an aluminum product reaches end of its life. To produce secondary aluminum, only 5% of the energy required for primary aluminum. Green building concept is meant to reduce load on environment and to make the world a better place for future generations. The emerging idea is of zero energy building – the kind that generates its own to meet its needs.
said Nisar Mohyuddin, general manager technical of Diamond Jumbolon. After learning importance of ecofriendly construction methods and materials, a group of NED University students have created a portal, raiseg.com, where they provide consultancy and connect consumer, constructor, architect and vendor to each other. “Everybody can meet here, we also provide consultancy on construction and help buy materials,” said Idrees Aun Ali Fatemi, founder and CEO of RaisG.com.
he construction should only be done on vacant land, and not on agricultural land. Construction on agricultural land can lead to food insecurity. Meanwhile, playgrounds and other recreation activity areas should not be used. Playgrounds help a society stay healthy. Activities in playgrounds also help children develop imagination power to solve problem which is crucial for nations to progress.
integrative project management (ipm) PM means to bring all stakeholders – consumer, builder/contractor, architect/engineer and vendor – under one umbrella to participate together in construction of a building to minimize, if not eliminate, chances of mistake. “You must have heard complaints from consumers that this building maybe great but it is not for us, with the builders riposte being why didn’t you tell us in advance. IMP will help in these issues not coming to pass,”
location & Transportation (lT) he location of a project should be selected while keeping in view the availability of public transport. We are seeing projects which are quite distant, compelling people to use their personal transportation which is not a good idea for roads, traffic and environment. The buildings should be located from where people could go to markets and offices on foot or bicycle,” said Mohyuddin.
sustainable sites (ss)
Water eﬃciency (We) n important part of green construction, the buildings should be equipped with water efficient apparatus and water that is used
‘The governmenTs in oTher counTries, including india across The border, are incenTivising green consTrucTion in The form of Tax rebaTe for a sTipulaTed period of Time. buT here The governmenT has noT done nexT To noThing To encourage green building’ 32
should be recycled. “Toilets with ordinary flush system waste seven to eight liter per one flush, four to five member family uses 40,000 litter per month water only flushing their washrooms,” said Hafeez Ahmed Tatari, country sales manager, BuildPro. Build Pro has introduced a flush system which uses 2.6 to 3.5 liter per flush, reducing water consumption by 40 to 50 percent, by using water-efficient siphon system instead of ‘L’ shaped tubes to drain wastage from toilet. Siphon mean the 'S' Shape system in toilet when water goes through the S shape tube it creates pressure due to a rather long way and sucks all what the toilet contains with relatively less water. In market efficient taps and showers are available, normal taps release 3-4 liter water per minutes, water efficient taps include air pressure while releasing water with the help of pressure pump, it limits release of water to 1.3 liter and saves up to 45 percent water. The new optimized shower releases 2.5 liter water per minute compared with normal shower which releases 6 to 7 liter per minute. When we talk about water, water filtration system is now essential for every household; 3C-Fibre has introduced water filter cartridges made by yarn having double the life than the normal foam ones.
energy & atmosphere (ea) uilding scientists have introduced instruments which will make building energy optimized. Different companies have introduced temperature reducing walls, bricks, roofs and green grass which can be grown on roofs and inside rooms with less light. Companies are offering glasses which let the light go into building and stop the heat coming with it. It helps save energy as you will not have to use AC on low temperature. For example, glazing skylights can be used instead of using electric bulbs. Energy can also be saved by reducing heat absorbed by roofs with twin wall PVC Corrugated Sheets, which are a kind of plastic roofing sheets. They are a better substitute of roof sheets made by steel, asbestos or fiberglass. They are colorful and can last long, even more than 10 years.
“Solar glass and tiles can also be used to generate electricity,” said Syed Ahsan Ashraf, project engineer at Green Wheels. The PVC Corrugated Sheets are especially suitable for properties in coastal areas, animal confinement buildings and places where heavy chemicals are stored. “These are noise, electricity insulation and temperature and fire resistant, and 120 centimeter to 150 centimeter roofing sheet can carry 150 kilogram load,” said Javed Khan, an Executive at Gilani Traders. By using optimised paints, house temperature can be reduced by up to 5 centigrade. A Karachi-based company 3C-Fibre has introduced a low-cost building material, a substitute for cement, which can save Rs150 per bag. It is made with stone from Baluchistan. “Polypropylene Fiber, a kind of plastic which reduces the maintenance cost by including 300 gram per bag in cement during construction,” said Mohammad Mohsin Sheikh, a sales coordinator at 3C.
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) ur existing air conditioners are not carrying ventilation system, which means we are living in cold but not airy rooms. These ACs do not provide fresh oxygen, which is a health hazard, besides being a burden on bills of electricity as well. IEQ means making an optimized ventilation system, which not only provide oxygen but also keep a building relatively cool without air condition machines. Energy consumption can also be reduced by using occupancy sensors, which automate lighting of the room – when a person leaves room the sensors will turn the lights off automatically. Temperature can also be reduced by using inverter AC exhaust fans, which also improve indoor air quality. “LED lights also consume less electricity. A 12-watt LED bulb produces light equal to that produced by 25 watt saver, consuming 50% less energy,” said Saad Saleem, an executive at Dai-Ichi Denkyu.
‘BACK IN 2011 AND 12, THERE WAS REBATE ON DUTY ON THE IMPORT OF SOLAR EQUIPMENT LIKE PANELS ETC., BUT THEN THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT WITHDREW THAT’ Bamboo flooring has also been used as a part of green construction as it keeps the temperature of the room low. It is a high renewable resource as it is manufactured from bamboo plant. Wall insulation also reduces room temperature to around six to eight percent. There are insulated panels in the market, which can be used on walls. They are thermal-resistant, temperature-controlling, firesafe and removable.
Innovation (IN) ur real estate needs to innovate; the good news is that companies from all over the world are ready to bring over innovative products. “After looking at the potential of ecofriendly construction material over here, our company is going to establish its production plant of insulation material in Pakistan in 2020,” said Noman Mehmood, assistant general manager at Kingspan, a major producers of cold store and pharmacy panels. Another Kazakhstan-based company Coldoff, decided to come to this country after they got huge organic traffic from Pakistan on their web portal. The company provides insulation spray foam which can be used on metal, bricks, concrete and wood in order to reduce room temperature. “We had no plans to come to Pakistan due to financial and security issues but when we observed that most visitors on our websites were from Pakistan, China and India, we decided to come here too,” said Zubair Khan, a Coldoff company representative.
Making Green Construction financially viable he green construction in itself has an allure: improving ones living standard, conserving energy and water. Self-interest ahead of altru-
‘THE BUILDINGS SHOULD BE LOCATED FROM WHERE PEOPLE COULD GO TO MARKETS AND OFFICES ON FOOT OR BICYCLE’
istic motives would provide the spur only if people are convinced of it being financially viable. “Going for green or energy-efficient building means considerable higher expense, for new technology and advanced materials have to be used. Then many appliances have to be automated, with the use of sensors and softwares, and vacant space has to be left around the infrastructure. Despite all this, ABAD (Association of Builders and Developers) has been keen to embark on the venture,” said former ABAD senior vice-chairman Hasan Bakhshi while talking to Profit. Bakhshi maintains that K-Electric is the main hurdle in the way of eco-friendly construction. “K-Electric has been using valuation of load of a building on a model established in 1960 – when appliances consumed more energy compared to now when all appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, irons etc. are far more energy efficient. The KE does not change its model because for energising a building on old formula is four times more expensive, and definite loss of considerable revenue stops them from switching to a new model. But who would want to invest far more to remain in a considerably disadvantageous position vis-a-vis billing ?”, said Bakhshi. According to Bakhshi, the government also has to step in to encourage green construction as this could also prove to be the key for Pakistan’s power woes. “I think through green construction, we can reduce 60% of our electricity consumption. But it also means a huge reduction in K-Electric’s collection,” he said. “But K-Electric needs to think that with domestic consumption reduced, it could boost our economy as a whole when the surplus power is directed towards the industries. We can produce more, import less and export more,” Bakhshi added. If this comes to pass, as Bakhshi says, then the present trade deficit and the subsequent pressure on foreign exchange reserves could also be taken care of. n
By Usman Hanif hether it is public or private, profit or nonprofit every organization needs a strong culture and highly-trained management to achieve its objectives, culture controls our movements as well as empowerment of its management and down-the-line work force to take difficult decisions in difficult times. It’s a rather common occurrence that despite low capital, smaller number of employees and next to no budget for marketing, some rather small-sized companies punch well above their weight show comparatively better results than bigger entities with greater resources. What
‘ONCE CHEATED, A PATRON OR A CLIENT WOULD NOT RETURN, FOR NO ONE LIKES TO BE MADE A FOOL OF OR BE A LOSER TIME AND TIME AGAIN’ 36
makes makes the difference is good management and strong culture. The management controls an organization; if it is working well, with decisionmaking prompt and proactive, the company would have increased production, profitability and goodwill, while its employees would have greater job satisfaction and clients would be happy too. It was the management that turned Exxon into Engro Corporation, the largest private sector conglomerate in this country, and the one that can be compared with sophisticated companies in the second and first worlds. On the other hand, if we look at PIA – a world class airline once – it is only a ghost of its glory days owing to pathetic management and a culture where self comes before the company. Usman A Ghani, advisor to the dean and adjunct professor at University of Texas at Dallas and chairman of Conflucore, a consulting firm, in conversation with Profit talked about five crucial things that contribute to a strong company culture and create a great organisation. Here is the golden quintet, as identified by the management guru.
Vision company doesn’t mean an entity that merely produces some product to put up for sale. We can only create great companies when we have vision to bring betterment in any aspect of society or solve some issue of the humanity, says Usman A Ghani, Mechanical Engineer from NED University went to management side after understood importance of management. “I swapped engineering with management, since the latter controls every other department.” For instance, a company wants to solve oral health issues of a society it starts producing toothpaste, if a corporation is intent on making justice to prevail
‘WITHOUT VALUES FOSTERED BY THE MANAGEMENT, COMPANIES CANNOT MAKE A MEANINGFUL PROGRESS’ Usman A. Ghani, Management guru, Chairman, ConfluCore. in society it opens a law firm to give individuals better lawyers to provide them quality legal assistance, said he. When somebody sees companies struggling with their accounts he launches an accountant firm to give an efficient service to the society, he added. Vision to serve one’s clients through a service or product separates a good company from a bunch of bad companies in every society in the world.
Differentiation e should keep asking ourselves what is the difference between us and the other companies in the market. A company can simply make itself different by charting a longterm vision and strong culture as all over the world 80-90 percent of the companies have poor culture. In Pakistan, the situation is even worse with regard to culture. Only 10 to 20 percent dare to lay down the contours of a culture and when the going gets tough not to compromise on the principles,” said Usman. A pharmaceutical company might sell compromised quality medicine but in the long run only the enterprise that produces topnotch remedies would prosper, said Usman. “Once cheated, a patron or a client would not return, for no one likes to be made a fool of or be a loser time and
‘YUSUF SHIRAZI, CHAIRMAN OF THE ATLAS GROUP, SENT 18 OF HIS MANAGERS TO HARVARD FOR TOP-OF-THE-LINE TRAINING. HE HAS RETAINED THE WHOLE LOT AS TRAINED PEOPLE NEVER LEAVE OPPORTUNITY-PROVIDING COMPANIES’
time again,” said he.
Values ompanies known for their values invariably court success. Each business should decide for itself the values it would be run by and stick to them while dealing with its stakeholders. Unless the employees, particularly the top management of a company, keeps faith in its avowed values, they will neither be successful nor last in business. All companies should decide what their values would be, for they would be dealing inside with employees and outside with their patrons. Values mean on what conditions would define its partnerships: if one falls in trouble would others go out to assist, would they help each other fill their skill gaps so that each could move ahead, said Usman, adding, “Without values fostered by the management, companies cannot make a meaningful progress.”
Long-term Strategy ompanies should always opt for the long-term view and carve a path accordingly. “Some companies are forced to shut shop in a matter of years despite starting with such promise, while other go on for generations – their strategies separating the success stories from the failures. “In the long run, ups and downs would invariably come; the organizations that are ready for bad times tide over them. Only the strong [managers] help companies to stay the course sticking to the values in bad times. Many a company often compromise its values for short term gains, but compromising entities will lose in the long run,” said the professor.
Development of Human Resource f a company aims to succeed, it ought to develop its human resource – particularly development of its upper-tier management. “If a frontline employee is put through training and his manager does not allow him to practice the new things that his learned, the knowledge gained would be in vain. On the other hand when a manager gets a similar training, he can make the entire outfit under him imbibe it and put it to practical use. Getz Pharma and Atlas Honda are the prime examples of this assertion. Yusuf Shirazi, the chairman of Atlas Group was 55 when he went Harvard to hone his management skills further. Khalid Nawaz Awan adopted the very same characteristics to transform TCS into a brand to reckon with. “I can remember their little one shop office at the intersection of Shaheed Millat Road and Drigh Road in Karachi. The companies that adapt with the passage of time, basing their foundations on knowledge, taste, technology, and awareness of new trends in consumer preferences prosper. But not all companies do that, but they’re condemned to suffer. Good managers are not born, they are trained. The ‘Management by Rotation’ is an excellent way to train new managers. Sometimes an employee complains that he had been put in a department he has never worked for; this person should understand that it may benefit his career, for his diverse experience may one day lead him to the top rung. “Employees can be changed into good managers. The ‘Management of Rotation’ is the most effective and practiced way not in just Pakistan but all over the world,” said the professor. “Imparting training to top management is an imperative. When a top manager learns something it translates into learning to the rest of the company.
‘THE COMPANIES THAT ADAPT WITH THE PASSAGE OF TIME, BASING THEIR FOUNDATIONS ON KNOWLEDGE, TASTE, TECHNOLOGY, AND AWARENESS OF NEW TRENDS IN CONSUMER PREFERENCES PROSPER’ Therefore managers, including mid- and upper-tier, should go for training whenever they feel their growth has reached stagnation level. “People culturally follow film heroes, while the bosses are professional heroes, and employees follow them to take professional leads from them,” said Usman Ghani. One reason organisations do not send talent for training is the thinking that once better equipped employee will ditch the company, said Usman, adding, but it is not true. Once a finance chief showed concern that what will the company do if the managers who were put through advanced training leave company when offered a better opportunity, the CEO retorted, “if they stayed here without training what will we do.” Yusuf Shirazi, chairman of the Atlas Group, sent 18 of his managers to Harvard for top-of-the-line training. He has retained the whole lot as trained people never leave opportunity-providing companies. On the contrary, we see that the greedy companies not spending anything on the training of its employees, are always ready to leave the company as soon as they’re offered a new job.
Confluence of the quintet hese five ingredients are called confluence, and when it happens, it can transform a company. Companies with long-term vision create organisational culture, by asking themselves what sort of culture they need to separate themselves from other compa-
‘IF WE LOOK AT PIA – A WORLD CLASS AIRLINE ONCE – IT IS ONLY A GHOST OF ITS GLORY DAYS OWING TO PATHETIC MANAGEMENT AND A CULTURE WHERE SELF COMES BEFORE THE COMPANY’ 38
nies. Companies should always opt for a culture that focuses on customer care. “When we adhere to human values instead of relying on machines, we will obtain the desired results too”, said Usman. “At the Atlas Group, I saw employees coming on time without any compulsion or stress from the organisation but because of environment. On the other hand, we see lots of companies laying stress on observing time, yet employees invariably report late for work. It is the company culture which makes employee observe punctuality and work harder is etched on their hearts. By accepting the notion that ‘the customer is always right’ in reality they accept their boss is correct too.” Some companies honour difference of opinion as they know this conflict may lead to newer heights. Good culture considers the long run, with no incompetent person remaining part of the system – like after a body part transplant, either it would be accepted or rejected. It just cannot survive despite being unaccepted. Good companies not only create culture but also honour people who contribute towards it and write about it in their early reports even if there nothing much for the employee to show other than this by way of performance.Usman A Ghani said, he remembers in the 1960s, 20 airlines used Karachi as their hub with another five requests for landing rights pending with the authorities. At that time, Pakistan had fewer managers due to lack of resources, but those were good managers while now we have a plethora of managers but few are efficient enough for the job. Long-term policies can only be made by with a futuristic outlook, keeping in view the interest of coming generations. “Management and culture are like a company’s mirror, their movements a reflections of these,” said Usman in conclusion. n
For the aficionados, a Pakistani startup is cashing in on the refurbished Harley Davidsons â€“ with the entire range of the legendary brandâ€™s accessories and clothing also available 40
By Bilal Hussain all it the sway of the American culture or the bikeâ€™s macho looks and feel, Harley Davidson has a cult fan following globally. For those who cannot afford it, a Pakistani entrepreneur, Imran Malik, came up with a solution: buying second-hand bikes abroad, and refurbishing them locally before putting them up for sale at his Harley Davidson Store. A bikes aficionado himself, until a few years back Imran Malik used to wonder whether many Pakistanis would want to own a Harley Davidson. Then he decided to take the plunge, and find out for himself.
Malik was not disappointed, once his startup started selling second-hand but expensive Harley Davidson motorbikes, the response was good enough to convince him once and for all that the bike has a fan base. Such is the history and the iconic image – indeed a pedigree of its own making bikers crave to possess it – that Malik did not have to do much by way of advertising to strike it reasonably big – to the extent that he has now opened a second store in Islamabad. Having sold above 180 motorbikes last year, a good 15 on average every month, the sales manager at The Harley’s
Store, Umer Usmani, put the price range in perspective: between Rs1.5 million to a staggering Rs6 million for a refurbished Harley Davidson.
Jittery first steps aving started off the business on prior order, with rising demand, Imran Malik finally opened his showroom – the Harley’s Store. Here a customer can pick up not only the Harley Davidson of his choice, but also the whole paraphernalia: HD blazers, helmets and other accessories, and clothing. Back in 2016, when he opened the Store, Malik had just four ready-to-sell
bikes in stock. Today he has 10 times that, an inventory of 40. In the interregnum, another showroom was launched in Islamabad. “We also had customers from up north who used to come here to buy bikes. To facilitate that clientele, now we have our presence in in Islamabad as well. The response is lukewarm but we are optimistic that it would pick up,” said Usmani. Malik’s Harley’s Store does not have any affiliation with Harley Davidson Motors, USA, who are manufacturers of Harley Davidson motorcycles. The Harley’s Store is an independent importer of used Harley Davidson motorbikes in Pakistan. The Harley’s Store purchases these used motorbikes from authorized dealers and distributors of Harley Davidson, with no business relation whatsoever with the Harley’s Store in Pakistan. “Mostly, our clients are landlords and businessmen,” said Usmani, while categorising the Harley Store patrons. Moreover, Usmani said that unlike the racing motorbikes, the Harley Davidson riders were not fond of pacing their vehicles and he hasn’t heard of a Harley’s Store client involved in a
Imran Malik, Owner, Harley Davidson Store road accident while riding the heavy bike. “Generally driven at a moderate speed, Harley Davidson bikes are not meant for speeding but the pleasure of a ride. People in groups of around eight to ten ride Harley Davidson at a mild pace to enjoy a cruise to somewhere, mostly to some beach or some other exotic place – or just to enjoy the ride and the togetherness,” he said.
Antidote for stress iddle-aged Noor Mohammad, a big land owner belonging to interior Sindh, was also present at The Harley Store, who came in his white Vigo. “I like these bikes and I own one too,” said an apparently tacit
‘HAVING SOLD ABOVE 180 MOTORBIKES LAST YEAR, A GOOD 15 ON AVERAGE EVERY MONTH, THE SALES MANAGER AT THE HARLEY’S STORE, UMER USMANI, PUT THE PRICE RANGE IN PERSPECTIVE: BETWEEN RS1.5 MILLION TO A STAGGERING RS6 MILLION FOR A REFURBISHED HARLEY DAVIDSON’ Mohammad, who came to the store to inquire about the paperwork of the bike he had bought. Another youth, who also owns a Harley Davidson, asked Usmani to show him some branded blazer. Apparently Usmani and the young man seemed to have known each other and the later mentioned Imran Malik as a friend. The branded
“I LOVE RIDING MY HARLEY DAVIDSON. IT’S THE BEST ANTIDOTE TO STRESS. THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE ROAR OF THE ENGINE THAT RELAXES ME” Ehsan Sehbai, CEO Shaheen Air
blazers are priced at a steep Rs25,000. To the aficionados, just the roar of a Harley Davidson is uplifting. Ehsan Sehbai, the CEO of Shaheen Air, said in a recent interview that the whirring sound of his Harley’s engine is an antidote for his stress. “I love riding my Harley Davidson. It’s the best antidote to stress. There’s something about the roar of the engine that relaxes me,” he was quoted as saying. Apparently a vintage cars and motorbikes buff, Sehbai also owns a 1967 Ford Mustang. Harley Davidson dealership is really sought after in Pakistan. And Dewan Group – a major entity some two decades back in the automotive market producing Hyundai and Kia cars before it withered away, and even now importers of BMW – is said to be one of the contenders for some time now. But now the Harley Store, with an established niche of its own in Harley Davidson bikes, albeit used and refurbished ones, also has its hat in the ring for the lucrative dealership. n