Wealth Creator: Serum Institute of India
Residence: Pune, India
2016 Hurun List Rank: #150 Global Rich List
Net Worth: US $8.1bn
Self-made Score: 4
In 25 words: The Chairman of Poonawalla Group, who purchased the Lincoln House, an iconic property on the Breach Candy area of South Mumbai for Rs 750 crore.
In 500 words: Dr Cyrus S Poonawalla is the chairman of the privately owned Serum Institute of India which is India’s top biotech company and the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold. Born into a family whose ancient business was horse racing, Dr Poonawalla has strong ties with India’s horse racing and breeding industry through the Poonawalla Stud Farms, a Leading Stud Farm in the country that was established in 1946 by his father, late Soli A. Poonawalla. After his schooling at Bishops School, Pune, he went on to do his graduation from Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce in 1966.
In 1988, he was awarded a PhD by the Pune University for his thesis entitled “Improved Technology in the manufacture of specific anti-toxins and its socio economic impact on the Society”. He qualified as a doctor with a degree in anti-toxins. Upon realising that horse racing had no future in India, Poonawalla started experimenting with cars along with a friend. They even built a replica of the Jaguar D-Type during these days. However, producing cars on a commercial basis required huge amounts of capital than they had that they decided to relinquish the idea. A conversation with a vet at the farm is what led Dr Poonawalla take up the challenge of meeting the demand for vaccines in the country by extracting horse serum and producing cheaper vaccines.
Founded in 1966 with the aim of manufacturing life-saving immunobiologicals and protecting every child right from birth, Serum Institute of India is the largest vaccine manufacturer with sales globally and ranked as India’s No:1 biotechnology company. Vaccines produced by Serum Institute are being used in around 140 countries across the globe in their national immunization programs, saving millions of lives throughout the world. It’s also accredited by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to export vaccines from India and started supplying high quality vaccines to U.N Agencies such as UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and PAHO (Pan American Health Organization).
Dr Poonawalla was married to the late Mrs Villoo Poonawalla who was a social worker and fine sportswoman. Their son Adar, a graduate from the University of Westminster, London, is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and executive director at the Serum Institute and is leading Serum’s charge into new drugs and markets. The family lives in the plush Koregaon Park in Pune.
In 2015, Poonawalla purchased the Lincoln House that used to house the US Consulate for Rs 750 crore, making it the largest residential deal the country has ever seen. The property is 2-acre Grade-III property and has a built-up area of around 50,000 sq ft which he intends to use as a family residence. Formerly known as Wankaner House, Lincoln House was a palace owned by the Maharaja of Wankaner in Gujarat. In 1957, the property was leased to the US and was subsequently renamed. Dr Poonawalla is also known for his passion for cars and has a very impressive collection of sports cars and custom-built limousines and Rolls-Royce.