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GenNext rises at Max

business Updated: Sep 21, 2016 22:15 IST
Sunny Sen
Sunny Sen
Hindustan Times
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Max group chairman emeritus Analjit Singh is a relaxed man. A firm believer in introducing professional managers to run the group, Singh, who launched Max in 2001, has the joy of seeing his three children carve out interesting roles for themselves.

His son, Veer, runs Vana, a wellness centre with emphasis on ecology. Veer’s sister, Piya, has chosen to be a “Max’s patient and family care resource” without direct business responsibility. Their youngest sibling, Tara Singh Vachani, is MD and CEO of Antara Senior Living, a part of Max India.

Antara Senior Living creates residential communities for senior citizens with the aim of creating an enjoyable and active lifestyle for its residents.

Tara is busy giving final touches to her maiden project, Antara Housing, a residential community for senior living in Dehradun and home to the ₹650-crore property.

Mentored by Singh’s trusted group leaders - Rahul Khosla, president, Max Group and Mohit Talwar, MD, Max Financial Services and Max India - the three siblings are ready to take the group’s vision forward.

Tara is married to Sahil Vachani, a former investment banker with Citigroup in London and co-founder, Dixon Appliances, a contract manufacturer of consumer appliances. Having joined Max a year ago, Sahil will be looking at the manufacturing business, along with the new ones — real estate, education and investment, all of which come under Max Ventures.

At the moment, Sahil is expanding Max Speciality films, which makes plastic films used in food and beverages packaging. “We want to expand beyond just food packaging, into high-technology polymer business, as China is becoming more expensive and India has an opportunity,” he says.

Max Ventures’ first real estate project is coming up in Dehradun on a five-acre campus. It is different from other apartments -- according to rules, the property can have 400,000 sq-ft of built-up space, but this has only 100,000 sq-ft. It is designed to offer more open space and better amenities.

The education business – focussed on primary and secondary education – is yet to take off. The investment arm has made it first investment in Azure Hospitality, which owns the MamaGoto restaurants.

In January, the Max group went through a recast, splitting into three listed entities — Max India, Max Financial Services and Max Ventures. The split also saw Vachani joining Max India’s board as a director.

“At this moment I am a bit overwhelmed as I am at the cusp of the next big change,” says Vachani.

Her focus is Antara. For the next 18 months, she will spend 80% to 90% of her time on it, and re-visit the venture’s business plans. The Dehradun property, she says, will make ₹100 crore less than what was spent. She hopes to recover that amount from the next facility, but she has learnt her lessons after having to rework Antara’s plans again and again to adhere to government rules and burgeoning costs. So the next facilities will be closer to urban areas, have larger communities with more people living in it, and the company will partner with banks to provide people loans to buy flats.

She talks of shareholder value, return on investment and improving lives. “It will be foolish to cut, copy and paste the Dehradun model to build other facilities,” she says.

The group’s life insurance business, which recently got merged with HDFC Life, was carved out to be a separate business under Max Financial Services. “I don’t see myself getting involved in the life insurance company… so the destiny of that company will evolve without us,” says Vachani.

(This story was changed in several places for accuracy)