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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)

 

Next Story

Trade War Between Washington and Beijing Effecting Farmers

Roger Lande says sometimes China does things “we don’t like,” but all relationships, with family, friends and business associates, have ups and downs.

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China, USA, Trade War
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping participate in a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. VOA

The trade war between Washington and Beijing is hurting farmers who grow huge amounts of soybeans in Iowa for export to the massive Chinese market.

Farmers in Iowa hope that the strong commercial and close personal relationships that China and the U.S. farm state have nurtured for many years will help the two sides overcome complications like the record U.S. trade deficit with China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited Iowa farmers repeatedly over the past couple of decades and former Iowa governor Terry Branstad is now the U.S. ambassador to Beijing.

The close ties have been strained by Washington’s allegations that China unfairly manipulates markets, steals American intellectual property, and creates bureaucratic obstacles to trade. China also accuses the United States of unfair practices.

FILE - Justin Roth holds a handful of soybeans at the Brooklyn Elevator in Brooklyn, Iowa, Nov. 21, 2018.
– Justin Roth holds a handful of soybeans at the Brooklyn Elevator in Brooklyn, Iowa, Nov. 21, 2018. (voa0

Tariff war

The United States imposed tariffs on Chinese exports, and Beijing retaliated with tariffs on American agricultural products.

That meant that Iowa soybeans were more expensive and less competitive on global markets.

Demand for U.S. soybeans — and prices paid to U.S. farmers — plunged $85 a metric ton.

An Iowa farmer who manages several farms, including 153 hectares of soybeans, says his profits fell 100 percent for 2018. David Miller is not happy to lose money but says without the tariffs, China would not pay any attention to the talks.

FILE - farmer Michael Petefish walks through his soybeans at his farm near Claremont in southern Minnesota.
– farmer Michael Petefish walks through his soybeans at his farm near Claremont in southern Minnesota.(VOA0

Needing each other

China really needs what Iowa produces, according to Grant Kimberley, the marketing manager for the Iowa Soybean Association, who has been to China more than 20 times.

“China needs soybeans … because their middle class has grown, and that means they are eating more protein in their diet, more meat, and if you have more meat production, you have to have more soybeans to feed those animals,” he said.

Kimberley’s family runs a 600 hectare farm, 48 kilometers from Des Moines, which was one of the places visited by Xi, who saw that it uses more advanced equipment and technology than is available to Chinese farmers.

The former director of Iowa’s department of natural resources, Roger Lande, and his wife, Sarah, have twice hosted Xi, at their home in the small town of Muscatine.

Also Read: Amidst Weakened Domestic Demand, China Expected To Report Slow Economic Growth

Roger Lande says sometimes China does things “we don’t like,” but all relationships, with family, friends and business associates, have ups and downs.

Kimberley is optimistic things will work out.

“Because that’s a long-standing relationship that’s been in place for 35 years,” he said. And “I think the overall underlying support and the people that are involved between the states and the province is still strong. And, and everybody recognizes that, over the long term, eventually this will get resolved,” he added. (VOA)