Dubai: The Sobha Group, with revenues of Dh1 billion from its Dubai operations, has put in place a succession plan to transition itself from a fully family-controlled business.
While the founder, P.N.C. Menon will continue to be Chairman, two top executive positions have been vested in those from the outside — Jyotsna Hegde as President and Francis Alfred as Managing Director and CEO.
“At the time of my death, my wife, Sobha, will take over as chairman, but the management of the day-to-day operations and of strategic planning will involve the other two,” said P.N.C. “The current Sobha Group board involves only family members — it was high time we started preparing for the next phase.
“I don’t want a situation where a family-owned business faces issues on succession planning after the founder’s demise. It’s best these matters are ironed out while he or she is still alive.”
The clarity on the future is also being done with an eye on a possible listing for the Dubai-focused operations. A listing in London remains a favoured option, but that could still change. (Abu Dhabi’s NMC Health went for a London Stock Exchange float in 2012 and has had a stellar run since. It got upgraded to a FTSE 100 standing in 2015.) “A listing will require us to expand the board and bring on board independent members,” said P.N.C. “We did think of doing so even ahead of a listing, but have dropped the idea.”
Sobha Group, meanwhile, has gone in for a change of name, Sobha Realty, and also unveiled a new corporate branding at Cityscape Global.
Its India operations, under the banner of Sobha Ltd., is publicly listed and with revenues of Rs30 billion. Its current chairman, Ravi Menon, is P.N.C. Menon’s son and will also assume the role of Co-Chairman of Sobha Realty in Dubai at the time of the latter’s death. (P.N.C. Menon also has two daughters, who are not directly involved with the developer’s operations here.) “Future shareholders in Sobha Realty and institutional partners, such as banks, always want to see family-owned businesses do the right things generation to generation,” said P.N.C. “I hope they will see it this way with the way our organisational structure and roles are demarcated.”
Sobha Realty, which has extensive interests in MBR (Mohammad Bin Rashid) City, is targeting Dh2.5 billion in revenues by 2021-22.