Singh is King

18 04 2008

Mr. K.P. Singh and his company DLF are now all over the media. The media has suddenly found a new rich guy to cover ever since Mr. Singh got listed as the 8th richest billionaire in the world by Forbes. 


While allowing Mr. Singh his place in the sun, let us spend a few minutes in trying to understand how did he amass a net worth of $30 billion in just three decades.

Mr. Singh’s wealth comes from real estate, particularly the huge valuations that the DLF land banks enjoy. Real estate is a murky business. It is a kind of business where political, muscle (read crime) and money power are inexorably interwoven. Unless you are at the top of the game in all the three areas, it is hard to be a real estate tycoon. Although, there are no evidences ( at least, not yet proven) against Mr. Singh, there are legions of stories of how he  had acquired land using all the rules in the book “Saam – Daam – Dandh – Bhed” to snare away  land from the farmers  of an erstwhile Haryana village now home to glass-and-granaite megapolis called Gurgaon.


However, credit has to be given though where it is due. Mr. Singh has shown a wide range of relationship management skills. On the one hand, he could befriend  Haryanvi village sarpanches , sipping lassi  with them, sitting on their khatiyas.


On the other hand, Mr. Singh proved to be equally adept in winning over the trust and admiration of  the  then American deity of the corporate world – Mr. Jack Welch. Let’s not forget when Mr. Singh met

Mr. Welch first, the former had very little of his current day clout.


Not only, GE turned out to be the first major international client of DLF in Gurgaon, Welch proclaimed Singh as his friend and credited the latter for introducing GE to India (and vice-versa) in the former’s autobiography.


DLF had a huge IPO last year. DLF IPO had its fair share of problems, being deferred many times due to various reasons. DLF IPO went through but the share has been very volatile ever since. Its current share price is very close to the IPO issue price.


Mr. Singh is now trying hard to improve the market perception of the real estate business in general and DLF in particular. Yesterday, he was on CNBC talking to a cub reporter on the former’s private jet, talking up the DLF stock.


As if being the lead sponsor of the Indian Premier League isn’t enough of a promotion,

nowadays, Mr. Singh is found delivering convocation addresses at the Indian School of Business, 


G B Pant University (they even conferred him an honorary Doctorate!) and some such hallowed portals.  Such PR events doubtlessly do a lot of good to Mr. Singh’s image. But what does it do to the image of the academic worthies who run these prestigious institutions?


–  G. Mohan




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