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Businessmen who shaped Tamil Nadu's economy

Last updated on: December 9, 2011 12:54 IST

Businessmen who shaped Tamil Nadu's economy

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Chennai, the fourth-largest metropolitan city in the country is a good example of how a place can converge tradition and modernity amicably.

The city, capital of Tamil Nadu, today represents a rich cultural heritage, good education, growing public and social infrastructure, investor-friendly government policies and work opportunities.

In fact, Chennai is even being pegged as the Detroit of South Asia and has been rated as one of the fastest growing cities in the world by Forbes magazine.

Here, we list the businessmen who have contributed or are working towards making Chennai a truly global city.

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Businessmen who shaped Tamil Nadu's economy

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Sathish Babu
Univercell

He is a door-to-door salesman turned into a successful entrepreneur. Sathish Babu, who started UniverCell in 1997 in Chennai, has spun a success story to become the largest mobile phone retailer in India.

UniverCell first started out with selling post paid mobile connections as a Skycell Teleshop (now Air Tel Connect). Here on, he realised that what consumers wanted - to make intelligent and informed shopping decisions, in an ambience that offered comfort and a high degree of service.

Thus, in 2000 he launched his first large-format mobile retail store in an upscale location in Chennai. And, here on began the journey of an entrepreneur who first started out selling vaccum cleaners as a door-to-door salesman.

Sathish Babu made a name for himself at a time when the organised mobile retail market was literally non-existent. He has been recognised for his work. Awarded the best mobile retail partner by Nokia, Univercell is growing three times faster than the market average.

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Businessmen who shaped Tamil Nadu's economy

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TV Sundram Iyengar
Founder of TVS group

T V Sundram Iyengar, the founder of TVS Group was one of the pioneers of Indian Industry. He started the company way back in 1912. He first started out as a lawyer, then a railway employee followed by a job in the bank. From then on, he grew to become India's most noted industrialist.

The flagship company of the group started by TV Sundaram is TVS Motors. He laid the foundation for the motor transport industry in South India when he first started a bus service in the city of Madurai in the year 1912.

He laid foundation for road transport industry in the erstwhile Madras Presidency through the State's first bus service, and by his in 1955, operated a number of buses and lorries under the title of Southern Roadways Limited.

This paved the way for the genesis of the TVS Group. He then later designed and produced the TVS Gas Plant, a factory for rubber retreading, besides two more concerns, the Madras Auto Service Ltd. and the Sundaram Motors Ltd., the former was the largest distributors of General Motors in the 1950s.

Soon, his business became a family-owned business when his five sons became an integral part of the business.

Today, it is headed by Venu Srinivasan. He is the grandson of TV Sundaram Iyenger and the managing director of the group.

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Dr Pratap Reddy
Founder – Apollo Hospitals

Dr Pratap Reddy is the founder of the Apollo Hospital Group, India's first corporate hospital group. He revolutionised the whole health care scenario of India and inspired others to follow the suit.

Dr. Pratap Reddy came to India after serving as the chief resident of the Worcenter City Hospital in the US, to start his practice in Madras with a modest earning of Rs 100 per day.

The idea to establish Apollo Group of Hospitals came when Dr. Reddy lost a patient who couldn't make it to Texas for an open heart surgery. This inspired Dr. Pratap Reddy to create world-class medical infrastructure in India and make it more accessible and affordable to common people.

He, thus, started his first centre in Chennai in 1983.

Dr Reddy is now spreading Apollo Hospitals Group to other parts of Asia. The group opened its first clinic in Dubai in March 1999.

His daughter, Dr P Preetha Reddy, is also closely involved with the group. She is the Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, and has been instrumental in getting JCI Accreditation for Apollo Hospitals.

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Kalanidhi Maran
Media Baron

South Indian media baron, owns regional broadcaster Sun TV Network which has 20 television channels. The group also has 45 FM radio stations, two daily newspapers and four magazines.

He also expanded his venture into aviation by acquiring budget domestic airline SpiceJet, partly from American billionaire Wilbur Ross.

Kalanidhi's company Sun Pictures has also produced India's most expensive film, Robot, which earned good box success.

He founded Sun TV on April 14, 1993 with an investment of $ 86,000, and his net worth reached $10 million by 1995.

By 2010, he was the 17th richest Indian with net worth of US$ 4 Billion. He has also won other awards like Young Businessman awards from CNBC, ERNST & Young. Forbes magazine named him the 'television king of southern India'.

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KG Baalakrishnan
Chairman and Managing Director - KG Group of companies, Coimbatore

KG Baalakrishnan is the chairman of KG Group Coimbatore, which comprises three major units - KG Denim Limited, KG Fabriks Limited and Sri Kannapiran Mills Limited.

KG Balakrishnan is also the managing trustee of KG Medical Trust and KG Educational Trust.

He is behind the first denim manufacturing unit in South India.

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Image: KG Denim


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Mallika Srinivasan
Director and CEO of TAFE

She was named the Economic Times Businesswoman of the year 2006, and that's just one of her achievements. Mallika Srinivasan is a well known entrepreneur of India, and one of the most powerful women.

A strong headed woman – Mallika Srinivasan leads the activities of a company, which is involved in macho business such as tractor manufacturing.

Born on November 19, 1959 as the eldest daughter of industrialist A Sivasailam ( chairman and MD of the Amalgamations Group), is the pride of her parents. She did her MA (econometrics) from Madras University. Thereafter, she earned an MBA degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is married to Venu Srinivasan, the CMD of TVS Motor.

She joined the family business in 1986 as the General Manager of Tafe (Tractors and Farm Equipment) Company. Under her leadership, she managed to convert the humble tractor business into a hi-technology oriented one, thereby becoming the initial choice of the farmers.

Today, the company has not only found a niche for itself as the leading tractor manufacturer, but also expanded its area of operations. It has also entered into others businesses like engineering plastics, panel instruments, automotive batteries gears, hydraulic pumps, and farm implements.

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N Srinivasan
Managing Director - India Cements

Narayanaswami Srinivasan wears many hats. He is an industrialist, sports administrator and a socialite. N Srinivasan is the managing director of India Cements and owner of the Chennai Super Kings Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team. He is also the Cricket Board's incumbent and 30th President.

In the past, he also served as the Secretary of BCCI in September 2008 and earlier was the treasurer of the Board under Sharad Pawar.

He is the grandson of SNN Sankaralinga Iyer, founder of India Cements. India Cements came into existence in 1946. Later, the corporation later diversified its activities leading to the formation of the Sanmar group.

India Cements has about seven manufacturing plants spread over southern India with a capacity of over 9 million tons per annum.

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VG Panneerdas
Founder of the VGP Group of Companies

He is a classic example of a rags to riches story. VG Panneerdas was the founder of VGP Group of Companies.

His journey began from a remote village called Azhagappa puram near valliyur, Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, India. Coming from a poor Christian family, he moved to Chennai in search of opportunities.

After working for few years, in 1955, he opened a shop selling items such as alarm clocks, watches and wall clocks. He was the pioneer in South India to introduce Hire Purchase for every day goods.

A true entrepreneur by nature, he built the VGP company from virtually nothing to its present status as a group of companies including retail, real estate and property development, resorts and amusement parks (including VGP Universal Kingdom), and video and audio studios.

VGP Universal Kingdom is an amusement park located in East Coast Road in Chennai. The park began with humble rides during the early days until it became a full-fledged amusement park in 1997.

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Image: VGP Universal Kingdom


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RG Chandramogan
Chairman and Managing Director, Hatsun Agro Product Ltd

He is the man behind Tamil Nadu's favourite ice-cream brand, Arun ice creams. The company that manufactures Arun ice-cream is called Hatsun. The Hastun group is a household name in Tamil Nadu.

In addition to ice-cream the company is also into other dairy products like milk, curd, mil powder and cooking ghee.

RG Chandramogan is a first generation entrepreneur from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu and heads the Hatsun group.

Hastun's Arun ice-cream has over 1,000 exclusive parlours in South India. It has over 70 flavours and combinations. Among these, many of them are India's first and trendsetters in their category such as the colour magic, an ice cream that changes colours.

The group has also gone international with Hatsun setting up 3,000-liters per day ice cream plant in Seychelles in May 2008. It also has ice cream plant in Brunei.




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