Gulf Business
Taking The Long View Image Credit: Gulf Business
Taking The Long View Image Credit: Gulf Business

Taking The Long View

Sobha Group founder and chairman, PNC Menon, is a first-generation billionaire entrepreneur who forged a wildly successful trajectory for his real estate business. And while succession plans have been drawn up for the Dubai-based business, he isn’t done just yet

Varun Godinho

Sobha Hartland, located in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, is a sprawling eight-million-square-foot gated community with big ambitions. It’s a project which is the launchpad for Sobha Realty to potentially become a $1bn company. Sobha Group chairman, PNC Menon, says, “We currently do $700m. We are not overambitious.”

How does it plan to get there? With an average population growth rate of 5 per cent, Menon says that Dubai’s real estate market size is pegged at Dhs25bn ($6.8bn). Sobha is angling for Dhs2.5bn ($680m) of that pie in its direct real estate business. The other Dhs1bn ($272m) is by way of the group’s ancillary businesses like construction, design and manufacturing which will generate another Dhs1bn. “That together amounts to around $1bn.”

Importantly, this isn’t the only billion-dollar company within the Sobha Group. Menon’s son, Ravi, heads up the group’s India operations which is run independently from the UAE-based company. The Indian arm is already listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and Menon says that it too will become a billion-dollar company in the next 3-5 years. And if that wasn’t enough, at the age of 70, he now plans to set up another business – though he has no idea of what it will be. “I need to find a business other than real estate to make my life, not my living. Real estate is a cyclical business. I should have something that is not too cyclical.

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