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Ananda Krishnan: The Richest Tamil in the World

Author:   |  Published: May 26, 2014  |  1 Comment

Ananda Krishnan is estimated to be worth 12 billion dollars making him the richest Tamil in the world. He holds stakes in various businesses in the telecommunications, shipping, oil and gas industries and has many properties to his name.


Born in 1938 in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Tamil immigrant parents from Sri Lanka, he studied in a Tamil medium school in Malaysia and went on to major in political science at the University of Melbourne through a scholarship program. He later obtained his MBA from Harvard.


How did a person from such a humble background become one of the top 100 wealthiest individuals in the world?  Not much is known about Ananda Krishnan as he tightly guards his privacy.  From what little we do know, he was passionate about investment from a young age and used to talk about it with his friends and family members.  People who knew him described him as quiet, compassionate, a strategic thinker, humble, someone who keeps a low profile, a deal maker, and an impeccable timer of market who knows how to deal with the politicians in various countries.


It is imperative to cultivate links with the political class to do business in emerging markets. And Ananda Krishnan has been a master at it. His success can also be attributed to the rise of Malaysia from a developing country to one of the wealthiest in Asia.


Always entrepreneurial, Krishnan was into race horse betting in his undergraduate days and registered some success in it. He decided to become a full-time entrepreneur after graduating from Harvard.  His first venture was in purchasing and trading oil concessions.  Oil concession refers to buying licenses to explore and develop oil from host countries in exchange for royalties and taxes.  This must have been in the late sixties and early seventies when there was an oil crisis.  This venture turned out to be profitable and he made his first millions from it.


Krishnan, a far-sighted entrepreneur, diversified into other areas as time progressed which helped him weather the Asian financial crisis.  He ventured into multimedia, entertainment, telecommunication, satellite, farming, gambling and oil and gas.  He was instrumental in building and was part owner of the Kuala Lumpur twin towers, once considered the tallest buildings in the world. Krishnan does not hold executive positions in various businesses he owns, he delegates the execution of business strategies to his trusted aides.  His main roles in his businesses are strategy and deal making.


Ananda Krishnan was instrumental in building the twin towers in Kuala Lumpur. At one point, they were considered the tallest buildings in the world.


Krishnan is married with three children.  He spends his time traveling between southern France, Australia and Malaysia and around the world in his private jet.  He has been actively involved in charities since 1985, including his efforts to help organize the Live Aid rock concert that helped raise millions for African famine relief in the eighties. He has also established scholarships to help promising students achieve higher education as he himself had been a scholarship recipient, and had been propelled to achieve success and wealth as a result.


Images courtesy of Forbes and Trip Advisor.