The most successful Pakistani Startup since 1950 & the Story of Pakistan’s Largest Stealth Venture Fund

Hook line and sinker, you will have to wait to get past a few lines for me to reveal the biggest VC that is operating in plain sight. Actually, it’s a very phenomenally setup corporate structure, that I’ve written at length about in the past, using a different angle.  But its time to revisit it as it continues to accelerate economic growth and directly employees over 30k People, it should be an example for aspirational types to emulate.

Let me first list the verticals this VC Fund  is operating in, by way of Independent Private Limited or Listed /Unlisted companies where it is either a 100% shareholder or a large shareholder.

  1. General Insurance Co
  2. Life Assurance Co
  3. Lubricants and Distribution Co
  4. Investments Co
  5. Securities Co
  6. Aviation Services Co
  7. Weapons Ammunition, Defense Services Co
  8. Security Services for Corporations Co
  9. Development & Holding corp for Estate Co
  10. Diversified Real Estate Projects Co
  11. Projects (Woolen & Shoes) Co
  12. Farms and Seeds Co
  13. Sugar Mills Co
  14. Full Service Restaurant Co
  15. Fuels Co (Aviation and Jet)
  16. Fertilizer Company 1
  17. Fertilizer Company 2
  18. Mineral Extraction Mill*(Foreign Investment in Morocco 250M$ in 2008)
  19. Cement Company 1
  20. Cement Company 2
  21. Petroleum Company
  22. Power Company 1
  23. Power Company 2
  24. Wind Energy – I
  25. Wind Energy – II
  26. Energy Limited Co
  27. Power Company Limited Co
  28. Oil Terminal And Distribution Company
  29. Marine Terminal
  30. Transfer Terminal Co
  31. Securities Co(#2)
  32. Bank in Pakistan
  33. Foods Distribution Packaging and Manufacturing Co.
  34. Fresh n Frozen Vegetables Co
  35. Meat Packaging and Farming
Co
  36. Pasta Manufacturing
Co
  37. Gas and Services Co
  38. Sugarcane Experimental & Seed Multiplication Farm Co
  39. Overseas employment Corporation

Further in in 1977 the Principals of this VC decided to set up an other trust for an affiliate of theirs which now includes:

  1. Airport Services Co
  2. Knitwear Unit
  3. Building Complex, Karachi
  4. Building Complex, Lahore
  5. Medical Services 1
  6. Medical Services 2
  7. Advertising Company
  8. Education School System
  9. Aviation College
  10. Aviation Academy
  11. Scheme, Peshawar
  12. Air Charter Company
  13. Mall Business & REIT
  14. Insurance Corp
  15. Wind Power Co
  16. Bonded Warehouses Co For Defense Clearing

This is right out of a fairy tale, in a country marred with lack of access to capital how did one group so successfully enter every single vertical there is. Interestingly enough their website lists further ambitions of upcoming projects also.

  1. Medical Service– A PPP to create affordable health care & Repatriate funds into hold co
  2. Private Airline – Commercial
  3. Hydro Power

Its just amazing to see how much innovation and access to capital deployment and operational efficiency exists for this group to be successful over everyone else in this country. Arguably they are one of the largest Independently controlled groups, whose financial data across their operating companies is actually not public, besides their listed companies and that, which they choose to publicly disclose. With what’s in the public domain they have 4.2Bn$ In Assets and 1.3bn$ Net worth as of 2017. Turnover is $1.6bn in 2017. Net profit was 307M$ in 2017. That’s a very good run rate. Again this does not include the 40 or so companies just the ones that are reported.

This has been such a progressive group of individuals and former CEOs worthy of being on Bloomberg and teach courses at Harvard because it didn’t stop there.  They also got into doing public good, and by the mid 1950s also got into co-operative housing societies. Which ballooned to being the top real estate destination in the country. They have these housing projects in

  1. Karachi
  2. Peshawar
  3. Lahore
  4. Islamabad-Rawalpindi
  5. Bahawalpur
  6. Gujranwala
  7. Multan
  8. Nawabshah

Arguably their best project in Karachi is now known as Millionaires row owing to the fact that 500Yds home is a Million USD$.

We will get in to the real estate commercial side of the business in another post time permitting but right now its just amazing to see the scale and growth of this amazing Venture fund and its associated entities.

There is one catch, they only provide jobs typically to a “certain” type of Pakistani. They were formed on the basis of doing and providing welfare. In 2017 Their publicly reported welfare spend was 102M$.

In a country where the youth are under employed, un educated and under educated, where most people can’t get a first job, this VC has made a business out of providing jobs to a select few post retirement. So economically speaking it ensures that over 200k New jobs are not created but re-circulated annually ; Another way to look at it my tax Rupees fund this VC that decides to then get into protected businesses like its real estate or defense businesses via a complex web of Trusts, Welfare Foundations and Specialized Bills passed in Parliament where its financial data, and other items are not open for public review. This has to be one of the most brilliant businesses to get into in the world. Why talk about global trade wars and protectionism we are going through a similar situation domestically.

This is an example of monopolistic competition that is operating almost un regulated. Its an age old thing, this VC used Public Money to setup mega corporations, structures and trusts that actually discriminate against the average Pakistani youth.

So here’s a cleaner view

1)Employed person pays taxes at source

2) Their taxes are taken by the Govt

3) The largest chunk of the Govts Tax allocation is given to 1 Entity(Lets call it FundingCo)

4) This entity(Funding Co) is a Public Good State entity, so It needs to be funded no less it provides security and is critical to the countries existence at large.

5) This entity has setup at an-arms length setup with its retirees at the helm and created an SPV(Special Purpose Vehicle) which acts as a Venture Capital Fund.(VC)

6) In this case the SPV was a trust, then it made other investments thru the SPV in to foundations that deployed the capital provided by this public goods entity to get in to 20+ Sectors with over 40+ Companies

7) The original remit of setting up the trust was to re-invest in the community of the (FundingCo) company that provides security but whilst that’s happening the SPV has turned to a Mega VC, the Mega VC controls every major industry, business, vertical and impacts every facet of every average Pakistanis life.

8) Yet the average Pakistani cannot get a job with the VC in top Positions as they are only for retirees of the Funding Co or with connections or lineage to them. Its an open secret.

9) The Irony is, all this is funded by TAX rupees giving for security of the nation, not to setup entities that rely on our National resources and other items and create significant employment at the top for 1 class of people and at the bottom for another class.

10) The fear of retribution is so real that this entire article uses no names or individually identifying data for those who have in the past have been F**ked over immensely.

So a startup that got funded in in 1950 with My parents tax money has no place for me to ever have a seat at the table. This is true for every middle class Pakistani, that for all their qualifications and tax contributions over the years can never be at the helm of affairs of this VC which evolved from being a startup it self.  The story no less is phenomenal as is the growth the corporate resilience.

Interesting enough the data since 1950 is not public. No one knows the real numbers, every thing is conjecture and speculation at the size of the real depth of the ventures and their profitability. What’s missing is tech, that’s the whole purpose of this article, the “rent seeking” nature of the past can be turned on its head if the folks who control this VC decided to get into tech. Now that they have had a solid run since 1950 and gotten into industrial items here are some quick and dirty suggestions for the next 50 years of making money from tax payer rupees but returning something back to the masses.

Suggestion 1

Co Working Space(s) across 8 Cities with a universal access passes (all the cities where they have housing developments) for one flat fee or daily, weekly, monthly charges. Much like We-Work model, but these guys also own Communal Clubs in multiple cities that have “dead air” time during the morning in the lounges and club facilities. Having people, a secure place to work with Wi-Fi access, subsidized food, printing and other services. This ideal alone is a home run and could result in a multi-million-dollar revenue source, whilst solving a key issue for the youth and startups of this country to have affordable places to work from and do meetings at.

Suggestion 2

Amenity Plots for Tech Companies, Just like they provide plots for schools and hospitals etc, there should be a new program in tier 2 cities to allow these plots for opening export oriented tech businesses. Perhaps they can get a rev share if the land and cost of construction is paid for, sort of like Land/Office for equity.

Suggestion 3

 VC & PE Fund , given the startup heritage, they need to diversify to tech investments in media, news, healthcare, content development and other growth focused internet industries. The time is now, with available capital and more than favorable capital market rules or the lack their off provide the edge that is needed to totally dominate this space.

Suggestion 4

 NII- National Information Infrastructure, now listen and read closely to this one, this is not as easy as it sounds but perhaps the most profitable one out there. I am shocked that no one has decided to get into this space. So think NADRA, but think Payments + Easy Paisa + CSD/Utility Stores all rolled up into a complete vertically and horizontally integrated supply chain and e-commerce play with full payments in tow. Given you have your own bank, you have your own stores, your own production facilities and you have folks retiring all the time, you can build your own worlds first fully integrated NII that provides economic benefit plus employs 100s of Thousands in the logistics space across the nation because you have presence everywhere. This will create new employment plus re employment at mass scale. How will this run, well obviously I didn’t forget that you also have your telecommunications infrastructure across the country, imagine if you could integrate everything. This could truly be Pakistan’s first unicorn. So time to get out of making corn flakes and move up the value chain. (This solves the dirty politician problem also , when you control the money rails no one can send or hide or transfer money without the guy(s) /gal(s) controlling the NII. Food for thought. This is public good at scale.

Suggestion X

For now we will leave it at that. Given how the current situation in the country has the principals of the FundingCo busy with their day job we will take a more detailed look at the diversification angles possible and the potential Nominal GDP Impact if this VC turned its sights on to Tech at large.

 

“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness… but only when you pay your taxes? That means your freedom is rented, leased, & not unalienable.” 
― Steve Maraboli

 

 

 

 

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