Aditya Thackeray's real estate business grows with political ambitions

Topics Aaditya Thackeray | Worli

Aaditya Thackeray. Photo: PTI
Aditya Thackeray, the only member of the Thackeray clan set to contest elections has been a vocal proponent of keeping Mumbai’s malls, pubs and restaurants open all night. Thackeray, who will be making his electoral debut from Worli constituency of Mumbai had pressed for a change in civic laws that would really make Mumbai a city ‘that never sleeps’. The young Thackeray is also scaling up his own real estate and restaurant business alongside his political career. And even though the 29-year-old Thackeray scion has declared assets of Rs 16 crore; his entrepreneurial ventures are yet to record even a fraction of that money in revenues or profits.

Corporate filings show that Thackeray started two real estate companies registered as limited liability partnerships (LLPs) since 2014. His latest venture named Ashar Projects was started in March 2019 – a few days after his father Uddhav Thackeray was reported by the media to have denied that he would be contesting the Parliamentary elections. Aditya Thackeray is one of the three partners in Ashar Projects having contributed 40 per cent of the company’s paid up capital of Rs 1,00,000. A 10 per cent stake in this partnership is held by his maternal uncle Shridhar Patankar. Ajay Ashar, a Thane-based builder, has chipped in with the remaining stake in the company. While it isn’t yet clear which real estate projects Thackeray’s company is involved in; the Ashar group is developing numerous real estate projects in Thane and Mumbai. According to the company’s website, it is involved in a project in the upscale locality of Pali Hill in Mumbai – one of the costliest real estate spaces in the city. In addition, the company’s website states it is involved in “super-luxurious bungalow scheme at Lonavala, a township project in Dombivali and has over 2.45 million square feet under development across the Mumbai Metropolitan region (MMR) in Bandra, Thane, Mulund and Nasik.”  With Thackeray’s company less than a year old, it is yet to file its financial statements with India’s regulators.

Business Standard sent a list of questions to Thackeray on his businesses and a potential conflict of interest between his efforts to promote Mumbai’s nightlife as a politician and his numerous business ventures on October 11 but did not receive a response till the time of publication. An SMS and a reminder email sent on October 14 went unanswered. Emails sent to the office of the Ashar group on the same dates also did not elicit a response.

Aditya Thackeray’s first entrepreneurial real estate venture started in 2014 when he was still the president of the Yuva Sena – the youth wing of the Shiv Sena which he had founded in 2010.  The venture named Como Stocks and Properties was an equal partnership between Thackeray and his mother Rashmi and had its registered office at Vaibhav Chambers in Bandra Kurla Complex. Como Stocks and Properties was set up by the Thackerays to undertake “property development, buying and selling of property, dealing of transfer of development rights and building development activities” among other things. However, documents show that Como Stocks and Properties was primarily involved in investing in the stock market in the first year of its operations. In 2014-15, it invested Rs 2.4 crore in unquoted shares and also received an unsecured loan of Rs 3.5 crore from an unspecified entity. In the first two years of its operations, Thackeray’s company clocked cumulative losses of almost Rs one crore. Things looked up a bit in 2016-17 when the venture clocked its first profit of Rs 26 lakh which declined to Rs seven lakh the following year. Since its incorporation, Thackeray’s business clocked around Rs 1.5 crore in revenues till 2017-18.

While it may be Thackeray’s maiden entrepreneurial venture, Rashmi Thackeray was on board of several real estate companies like Fastrgowth Properties, Sanjivani Developers and Samved Real Estate. Thackeray’s initiation into the family’s business started as soon he turned 20 years of age in 2010. Along with his mother, he served as a director on board of two companies which were involved in the wholesale trade.

Thackeray’s business interests have extended to the restaurant industry as well. In July 2015, he started Hibiscus Foods along with his mother as an equal partner. This was to undertake the business of “running restaurants, sell food, liquor, all kinds of beverages, run franchises for Indian, Italian, Mexican, Irish, continental, Chinese food and act as consultants in the food industry”. Thackeray started this business less than six months after he wrote to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to remove restrictions on Mumbai’s nightlife. In a letter on a Yuva Sena letterhead dated February 15, 2015, addressed to Fadnavis, Thackeray had written, “On my request to the mayor of Mumbai and the BMC had passed a special resolution seeking a vibrant nightlife for Mumbai. As per the BMC’s proposal eateries, cafes, malls, theatres, chemists and milk shops could remain open all night in non-residential areas. Another aspect we could have is to add malls and mills already being used as commercial/entertainment/ food zones be declared as Special Entertainment Zones wherein all establishments within the mall can remain open all night.”  A couple of days after writing the letter, Thackeray claimed on social media that Fadnavis had accepted his proposal. On December 2017, the Maharashtra government repealed a law enacted in 1948 and introduced the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Service Conditions) Act that allowed all shops and establishments to employ workers in three shifts – effectively allowing all shops to remain open 24*7 across the state. A notification was later issued that prohibited places serving liquor, liquor shops and theatres from remaining open around the clock. Thackeray’s restaurant business earned no revenue from operations in the first two years of its existence. Its only income of Rs 48 lakh in 2016-17 was classified as ‘interest income.’ In 2017-18 it reported an income of Rs 67 lakh classified as “revenue sharing.”

One of Thackeray scion's low profile entrepreneurial ventures named Eliora Solar was started in April 2016.  Its stated business activity was “transmitting, manufacturing, supplying, generating, distributing and dealing in electricity and all forms of energy and power generated by any source.”  In 2016-17 and 2017-18, when its last financial statements were filed, the company hadn’t yet earned any money from any source. The Shiv Sena will be hoping that Thackeray’s electoral debut and political innings turns out to be more successful than his entrepreneurial run till now.

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