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Journey of Indian Origin Harry S. Banga among Richest people in Hong Kong

Harindarpal Singh Banga is among the list of Top 50 richest people according to Forbes Magazine

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Harry S. Banga is one of the richest people in Hong Kong
Harry S. Banga is one of the richest people in Hong Kong. Pixabay

Hong Kong, Sep 11, 2017: He grew up in Chandigarh and never thought he would be a billionaire and one of the richest people in Hong Kong. But Harry S. Banga has done that successfully in the fields of commodities, ship management and asset management.

With a net worth of $1.02 billion, Harindarpal Singh Banga, as the chairman of the fairly young Caravel Group, not only figures among the list of Top 50 richest people (Forbes Magazine) in Hong Kong but is known as the tycoon who has staged a comeback in the commodities sector in a big way.

“It’s been a great journey. (I am) So proud of achieving what we have done. Obviously, there were a lot of ups and downs. Never realised on leaving Chandigarh that I will be where I am today. By the grace of god, it has been a wonderful and successful journey. One day I will write a book,” Banga told IANS during an interview in the swanky headquarters of the Caravel Group in the Central Plaza skyscraper in Hong Kong’s busy Wan Chai commercial area.

Banga, who started as a shippie, has reasons to feel proud.

He exited the Noble Group, in which he was a co-founder in 1988, just before it started crumbling on the business front. Setting up the Caravel Group in 2013 with an $800 million investment, Banga was soon back in the big league of Hong Kong billionaires early this year.

“We have three verticals within the Caravel Group. The first one is Asset Management. It is purely investing in liquid assets in equity, fixed income and debt investment and some private equity investment. The other part is brick and mortar business in Caravel International which has got two verticals. One is Caravel Resources under which we do the commodities business. Then we have Caravel Maritime and Caravel Fleet Management Limited.

“Today we are the third largest ship management company in the world. We have 450 ships under our management, close to $20 billion dollars of assets. Total officers and crew are about 18,000 — the majority of them from India,” he explained.

With operations spread in 19 countries across most continents, Banga says that doing business with China is easier.

“Seventy per cent of our total turnover comes from China. I have been dealing with China since 1983. Dealing with officials and corporates in China, I find them very easy to develop and do business with.

“Our business mainly focuses around China, which is the main consumer of commodities today. Today, we are the largest international trading company supplying iron ore to China. Total volume is 40 million tonnes. The originating countries are India, Australia, South Africa and Brazil. Caravel Carbon does the thermal coal business. Sixty per cent of that goes into China and 40 percent to India to power plants, cement plants etc,” he said.

Though his company has offices in India, the business dealing is limited.

“While in other countries in Europe, Australia, America it is either a green light or red light — it is all very clear. Though in the last three years it is changing, in India it is permanent amber light. So, you don’t know if it is red or green. They do come with a policy in India but it takes a long time to understand that policy,” said Banga, who was honoured with the Pravasi Bharatiya Award in 2011 by the Indian government.

“Ours (India) is not easy. We have religion issues, caste issues, language issues, states have their own issues. All these things are very challenging. New Delhi takes decisions. The implementation is in districts. It is a very different world there (in the districts). In Beijing, one guy decides, everyone implements,” he said.

Banga is worried that too many young people in India are getting education and skills, but not enough jobs are available.

“In India, we have the beauty product and health product e-retail company called Nykaa. That is one of the major investments that we have,” he added.

Born in Amritsar, Banga, 66, did his schooling and bachelor of engineering in Chandigarh before moving out in the 1970s.

“I became the youngest captain at the age of 27-and-a-half. I worked with companies in London, Geneva and Hong Kong, where I arrived in 1984,” he said.

Among other things, Banga has an eye for contemporary paintings and antiques. (IANS)

 

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Can Huawei’s HarmonyOS be Successful Outside China?

Can Huawei pull off its HarmonyOS outside China?

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A possible alternative to Android and iOS is finally here -- in Huawei HarmonyOS. Pixabay

Over the last decade, the smartphone operating system (OS) business has become a duopoly. Either you have Apples iPhones running on iOS or a device powered by Googles Android.

A possible alternative to Android and iOS is finally here — in Huawei HarmonyOS. Can it win the love of consumers who are on Android or iOS for years? According to Neil Shah, Research Director at Counterpoint Research, it won’t be easy for Huawei to break the duopoly of Apple and Google. Beyond China, there are two key challenges for Harmony OS in the global market.

“Firstly, to attract global developers to optimize apps for HarmonyOS and integrate other monetization options via Harmony software development kit (SDKs) at scale. This is something other OS providers were not able to do — for example Microsoft with Windows Phone,” Shah told IANS.

“Secondly, from a smartphones perspective, it is not fully complete until HarmonyOS features quality, diverse apps, AI, services, user-experience, support for multiple technologies, and ad platform integration, with respect to Android Google Mobile Services (GMS),” he explained.

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Developing an ecosystem of partners and developers to create applications and services for a platform is hard. Pixabay

Building and maintaining app stores in each country along with localization options, developer support, GDPR guidelines and security scanning, all with huge overheads, is a massive undertaking. “Further, issuing regular security patches and software updates, while the platform is open to millions of disparate devices, will be resource-intensive and costly,” said Shah.

Working with different global operators is going to be another challenge if the value is just captured by Huawei or close partners. At some point, to maintain openness and scale, Huawei will have to spin off HarmonyOS into a separate entity to drive the growth of the platform. According to Julie Ask, Vice President and Principal Analyst, eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals at Forrester, it’s a smart and long-overdue move by Huawei.

“The owner of the operating systems on smartphones (and a host of other devices) has far more market power than simply hardware manufacturers. Fundamentally, it’s a window or data and insights on every user of that phone – even if just under the pretense of collecting data to improve the product in the long term,” Ask told IANS. The open question is: Can Huawei pull it off?

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Necessity is the mother of invention applies well to Huawei. Pixabay

“Samsung has tried. Nokia (and employees of Nokia) tried. Developing an ecosystem of partners and developers to create applications and services for a platform is hard. While hard, Huawei has the advantages of a large home marketing (China) plus some financial freedom to pursue a large – and what could be long-term strategic initiative like this,” she elaborated. Could the HarmonyOS be a threat to other OS developed by the US companies like Google?

“In China, yes. Because China has a unique digital ecosystem that foreign Internet companies like Google don’t have the advantages to adapt to it very well,” said Xiaofeng Wang, Senior Analyst at Forrester.

Being a local Chinese company/brand, it would be easier for Huawei/HarmonyOS to build a well-rounded mobile ecosystem given its familiarity of the digital ecosystem there and the large scale of Huawei’s mobile phone penetration. “Plus, Chinese consumers are growing preferences on home-grown brands; and Chinese brands are doing better in marketing and engaging with Chinese consumers,” Wang told IANS.

Also Read: Alexandre Aja’s Love for Horror Lead to Great Success

Shah added: “Necessity is the mother of invention applies well to Huawei, though it will have to remain inventive and prudent on how to scale outside China if forced to, and make sure it has everything in place it is in harmony with the industry and consumers.” The Chinese conglomerate has indicated that it won’t be migrating to HarmonyOS for smartphones, unless it is completely cut-off from Google Android’s access outside China.

When the time is right, and Huawei has more developers working on HarmonyOS, they might take full advantage of the scalability of the micro-kernel architecture the OS provides. (IANS)