“I have had many lucky breaks. Lady Luck has always been on my side. New projects just crop up before I stop doing the old ones" (Mian Muhammad Mansha)
Mian Muhammad Mansha – a name signifying continuous struggle, hard work and a faith so very firm in his Allah that nothing on the face of this earth ever stopped him from attaining the goodies that life had in store for him and he did attain the giddy heights of glory, for sure.
A father of three sons, Mian Muhammad Mansha stands out the richest man of Pakistan with a fortune worth $ 2.5 billion. He is also the biggest single exporter in Pakistan. He hails from Chiniot, Punjab. ‘Chiniotis’ are one of the leading industrialists of Pakistan.
Mian Mohammad Mansha is the Chairman of “Nishat Group” - the biggest industrial and financial conglomerate of Pakistan. This group was founded in 1948 by Mansha's father Mian Mohammad and his three brothers. It was named after Nishat Haroon, the 3 year old grandson of Mian Mohammad Yaqub. Nishat Haroon was born to Mian Farooq who was married to the daughter of Mian Fazal Rehman of United Textile Mills, Multan. Windmills of God work in strange ways. In 1948 when Mansha's father Mian Mohammad Yahya and his three brothers incorporated a partnership concern, it was called Nishat Corporation after Nishat Haroon, the three year old grandson of Mian Mohammad Yaqub, eldest of the four brothers. The child who gave his name to the group has disappeared in thin air and Mian Mohammad Mansha, Chairman Nishat Group is today on top of Pakistan's corporate world, boastfully accustomed to buying his casual outfit from Harbe Frog on Bond Street, shoes inevitably from Gucci, cardigans and overcoats from Burberrys’. Nishat Group had several industrial units in East Pakistan, which they lost in 1970. This group now owns ‘Muslim Commercial Bank’, five cement factories and numerous other industries.
Nishat currently comprises of 21 companies including 13 listed companies with manufacturing assets of nearly 27 billion and three of Mansha's close relatives, Saigols, Jehangir Elahi and S M Saleem of United Bank among the top 45 industrial families in Pakistan.
Mian Mansha has catapulted to the top of Pakistan's richest families from the 15th position in 1970 and 6th in 1990 because of combination of factors like his marriage to Naz, daughter of Yusuf Saigol. Like several other Chinioti businessmen, Mian Yahya had a leather business in Calcutta (India) before moving to Pakistan in 1947 and it was perhaps in Calcutta that he developed friendship with Yusuf Saigol that led to the marriage of Mansha and Naz Saigol sometimes around 1970.
The general perception is that MCB was privatized to Mian Mansha and his associates because of his friendship with Nawaz Sharif. However, Mian Mansha feels that, investing in the shares of Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) has been one of his biggest business slip ups. The privatization of MCB remains a mystery, till to date. Nawaz Sharif came into power on November 6, 1990, invited bids for the privatization of Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) on December 15, 1990 and announced its privatization to successful bidder: Messrs Abdullah and others on January 9, 1991.
The stories from the past suggest that five bids were received for Muslim Commercail Bank with ‘Tawakkals’ and ‘Adamjee’, being the highest and second highest bidders. Adamjee who formed a joint venture with Yunus Brothers, perhaps the biggest Export Houses in Pakistan, had incorporated Muslim Commercial Bank in 1949. As previous owner, they had the first right of purchase but, third lowest bid by Messers Abdullah and others, a consortium comprising of 12 leading industrialists, mostly from Punjab and headed by Mian Mohammad Mansha, was asked to match the highest bid and declared winner. The consortium which called itself the National Group comprised the following leading industrial groups and families:
Universal Leather and Footwear
Mian Mohammad Mansha
Haji Bashir Ahmad
Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmad
Be Be Jan Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd.
Bashir Jan Mohammad
F and B Bulk Storage (Pvt) Ltd.
Khawaja M. Javed
At the press Conference called to announce the sale of MCB to the National Group, the then Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz said that two highest bids were rejected because the bidders had failed to disclose the source of their income. A press release distributed at the press conference contained genuine logical reasons in it. Those being that the committee which scrutinized the five bids was guided by four major considerations namely 1) corporate and financial record of bidders, 2) capability of managing the bank on sound professional basis, 3) dispersal of share-holding to avoid concentration of ownership and control and 4) price offered on " as is where is" basis, without any condition.
Nevertheless, for nearly 30 months while Nawaz Sharif was in power, Bhutto and her party leaders ceaselessly attacked the privatization process, particularly privatization of MCB to Mian Mansha and his associates, as an act of favoritism and part of a game plan. Farooq Leghari, Finance Minister in the caretaker govt. of Prime Minister Moeen Qureshi, declared on the floor of the Senate on May 18, 1993 that MCB was privatized as part of a grand design to grab some of the most profitable units slated for privatization.
However, these political plays and scandals did not weaken Mian Mansha’s resolve to work harder, day in and day out.
Mansha was the only son of Mian Mohammad Yahya and his father’s death in 1968 forced him to give up studies in UK to return home since several of his cousins, Abdul Aziz, Aftab Iqbal and Mian Mohammad Farooq were already entrenched in the family business.
In 1970, Nishat comprised 6 units in West Pakistan, namely Nishat Corporation, Nishat Sarhad Textile, Nishat Textile Mills, Faisalabad, Nishat Chemical Industries and Nishat Agencies, Kotri and Karimi Industries, Nowshera.
The units in East Pakistan included Nishat Jute Mills, Qadaria Textile Mills, Tangail Cotton Mills and Chemical Industries of Pakistan. The business in East Pakistan was headed by Aftab Iqbal, one of several cousins of Mian Mansha whose whereabouts are not known today.
It is popular saying among the present day residents of Chiniot that the goddess of wealth is in love with the Chiniotis. But Mansha is perhaps being loved by both the goddess of love and lady luck since he has narrowly escaped the misfortunes that were the lot of the bulk of Pakistani Industrialists in 1970.
When divisions of Nishat group assets took place in 1969, Mansha bargained for Nishat Mills at Faisalabad for which he had to pay additional amounts to his uncles but this saved him from losses in East Pakistan that became the lot of his uncles. Karimi Industries (Nowshera) of Nishat group was nationalized and its nationalization is cited to argue that Bhutto's nationalization was an act of victimizing the opponents because it was too small to be nationalized. But loss suffered in Karimi Industries also came to lot of his uncles.
Mansha's rise started in 1991 when within six weeks of coming into power Nawaz Sharif sold MCB to National group of 12 leading industrial families headed by him. The formation of National group itself was big strategic stroke of Mian Mansha against future reprisal by any government since it would instantly alienate 12 leading industrial families of Pakistan.
According to group profile, Nishat comprised of five companies with assets worth Rs 2,480 millions in 1990 with plans for four new companies. Listed companies included Nishat Mills, Omer Fabrics and Raza Textiles while the only unlisted company was General Stitching Company. Mansha once said in an interview that "for long-term investments, he had his eyes set on the food processing industry" but the privatization by Nawaz Sharif opened new doors for him and his dream to venture into food processing industry has not materialized to date. Instead, Mansha, his relatives and business associates emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the privatization under taken by Nawaz Sharif, ending up with five cement factories and a bank.
Mian Mansha has definitely come a long way… and of course, Nishat’s still growing.