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A Fascinating Look at the Business Empire of Adar Poonawala

Step into the World of Poonawala's Empire - Where Fortune and Success Reign Supreme!

18 January 2023


Jayashri Ghorpade

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  • As CEO of Serum Institute of India, Poonawala is finding newer frontiers to invest the family wealth ensuring that these companies have the potential to complement the world's largest vaccine maker.

  • A household name in India, the Pune-headquartered company, SII, has made millions familiar with Adar Poonawalla, his father, Cyrus Poonawalla, and the company's 55-year history in the vaccine industry.

  • Not that it needed much validation. After all, the Poonawallas are among India’s 10 richest people, with a net worth of $16.6 billion, almost the GDP of Botswana.

Adar Poonawalla is an Indian Entrepreneur and the CEO of Serum Institute of India, a leading pharmaceutical company and manufacturer of vaccines and immuno-biologicals. His father Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla (Vaccine King of India) founded Serum Institute in 1966 and it is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer as of 2017.

Poonawalla joined the Serum Institute in 2001. “At that time we were very India-centric and our company was not exporting to more than 30-40 countries. I thought that the opportunity for growth was there and I wanted to geographically diversify our portfolio and add vaccines and products, which I did every two-three years.”

Since then, the company’s exports have grown. “Today we are in 147 countries, and 85-90% export-oriented. We have also been increasing our business in India. The ratio will probably be 60:40 as of now. In the last decade, we have been investing a lot in technologies—we have been buying technologies from the US, Europe, and Asia,” he says.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, once the pandemic began, SII’s revenues grew by 41 percent, while its profits grew by 73 percent to Rs3,891 crore.

The Cyrus Poonawalla Group of Companies headquartered in Pune, India is a diversified group with business interests that include Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, Finance, Clean Energy, Hospitality & Realty, and Aviation.

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-   Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by the number of doses produced and sold globally.

-   Bilthoven Biologicals, is a bio-engineering and pharmaceutical company that remains at the forefront of vaccine production.  Acquired from the Netherlands Government in 2012, the acquisition ensures access to technology and expertise for making the IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine, Salk) earlier possessed by only three other vaccine manufacturers.

-   Poonawalla Fincorp Limited, known earlier as Magma Fincorp Limited is a Poonawalla group non-banking finance company that focuses on consumer and MSME financing.

-   Poonawalla Aviation Pvt. Ltd. (PAPL) is a Pune-based non-scheduled operator providing chartered flight services since 2005.

-   Established as the Poona Stud Farm in 1946 by the late Soli A. Poonawalla, the Villoo Poonawalla Greenfield Farm is the leading thoroughbred stud in the country with "15 Champion Breeders" Awards to date.

-   Poonawalla Clean Energy’s focus on environmentally sustainable solutions and technology to meet the rapidly growing need for renewable energy has recently resulted in the funding of several companies whose core objectives are renewable resources of energy.

-   In 2011 after the demise of Villoo Poonawalla, the matriarch of the family, Adar Poonawalla founded the Villoo Poonawalla Foundation in her memory intending to make the lives of the community in urban and rural areas more livable and provide support in healthcare, sanitation, and education.

-   Setup in 2015 the Adar Poonawalla Clean City Initiative (APCCI) is a first-of-its-kind Public-Private-People Partnership towards efficient and scientific waste management.

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