Mian Mansha: patriarch and perfectionist
Unlike the country’s politicians, Pakistan’s leading industrialists rarely expose themselves to domestic and foreign media attention. Mian Mansha says he simply prefers to stay away from the press wherever possible, and let his business record do the talking.
Mansha: "My net worth is around $4 billion to $5 billion"
"I feel that my privacy and my businesses are managed professionally, so it’s those people that should be at the forefront in the media," he says. "There are lots of other people who can do this [speak to the media] better." A leading executive close to the company adds: "Pakistan’s industrialists are quiet by nature – they tend to let their managers do the talking for them. But Mansha lets his managers do the managing. He is a micro manager as well – he keeps a back seat but he knows what is going on at every level." The industrialist’s personal fortune, vaguely estimated at between $1 billion and $5 billion, has often been mused upon but never revealed in full. In a recent, widely quoted Pakistan rich list floating around the domestic media, Mian Mansha tops the bill, with a fortune of $2.5 billion. Asked about his personal wealth, Mansha says the real value is at the top end of the reported scale, and held in a family trust. "My net worth is around $4 billion to $5 billion," he tells Euromoney.
A tale is often told of Mansha’s reaction to the successful sale by MCB of $150 million-worth of global depositary receipts on the London Stock Exchange in October 2006. Nishat Group having become the first Pakistani corporate to sell GDRs on the main London bourse, some younger MCB executives took the attitude: "We’ve done well, got the offering away, so now it’s time to party."
An official who was present says Mansha quickly squashed the idea. "I heard him tell his young bloods: ‘All we’ve done is to sell some paper – now we need to prove to our shareholders that we know what to do with it.’ Other sources say that the billionaire has been known to blast employees for not turning enough profit, lacing his venom with acid by noting that they make less money for him than his personal broker.
Outside work, Mansha prefers to retreat to his home on the outskirts of Lahore and spend time with his wife, children and grandchildren. "I’m a family person," he says. "I’m not in bed any later than 10 o’clock. I don’t have a globe-trotting lifestyle. I go with my family to London, which is a great place, but I prefer to put on my slippers and bounce my grandchildren on my knee."
But Mansha is determined to provide the outside world, particularly investors, with a more positive view of his homeland. Pakistan appears to the outside world as a country at war with itself, and constantly in danger of fracturing into four ethnically homogenous fragments. The huge truck bomb that gutted the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and killed scores of people in September was the latest sign that terrorism is shifting from tribal regions to the main cities.
Yet Mansha remains upbeat. "I’m very optimistic about Pakistan’s future," he says. "There are external problems afflicting us but there are lots of misconceptions about the country." He believes the best way to extract Pakistan from terrorism, and to boost a sluggish economy, is to create more jobs and prospects for young people by throwing open its borders, particularly those with India. "I say let them [India] come and invest with us. I’m one of the few Pakistani entrepreneurs who believes the best way to expand is to open our borders with India. There are people here who are afraid of competition from over there, but our ports are cheaper for them at least – we have ports that are much quicker, with better infrastructure, and much cheaper, than India. We need a bigger market and more competition and they need the same."