Hari Selvanathan

Carson Cumberbatch

Carsons – Carson Cumberbatch – is one of the largest conglomerates in Sri Lanka. It has its origins in the island’s colonial era, and was founded when two companies founded by R. B. Carson and Henry Cumberbatch merged in 1947.

In 1857, Carson arrived in Ceylon and opened his first office in Baillie Street in Colombo to import cotton goods. In 1881, Cumberbatch, a coffee planter, joined Sabonadiere and Company, an estate agency that dealt with the produce of 113 plantations; and when the company declared bankruptcy three years later, he resurrected it under the name Cumberbatch & Company and parlayed it into one of the most recognised estate agency houses in the island.

The concern grew. Mergers and acquisitions, and diversification into oil palm cultivation in Malaysia from rubber plantations, real estate investments and leisure properties made for a considerable portfolio.

In 1988, the controlling interest in Carsons was acquired by the Sri Krishna Corporation, a 75-year-old company, which is a leading manufacturing and exporting house founded by the Selvanathan family.

Brothers Hariharan (Hari) Selvanathan and Deshamanya Manoharan (Mano) Selvanathan jointly own and manage Carson Cumberbatch.

In 1995, Carsons expanded its interest in oil palm plantations into Indonesia and commenced a plantation project under PT Agro Indomas in Central Kalimantan, increasing the overseas oil palm plantations land bank from 1,800 hectares to an impressive 18,000 hectares.

Selvanathan is the Chairman of Bukit Darah, which is the largest shareholder of the company while the Selvanathan family (founders of the Sri Krishna Corporation) is the ultimate controlling shareholder. In turn, Carson Cumberbatch owns 6.15 percent of shares of Bukit Darah in a circular ownership scenario. The company holds eleven listed companies.

In 2008, Goodhope Asia Holdings (GAH) was incorporated in Singapore as the holding company of the company’s plantations sector to consolidate and regionalise the segment’s asset base.

So in addition to being the Chairman of Bukit Darah and Carson Cumberbatch, Selvanathan serves as the Deputy Chairman of GAH as well. He also holds directorships in several subsidiary companies within the Carsons Group and serves as a director of Sri Krishna Corporation.

Though it has been speculated that Hari Selvanathan is ranked fifth on the list of the 20 richest and most powerful people in Sri Lanka, he remains a low key and an elusive magnate who guards his privacy but generously shares the fruits of his success.

Hari Selvanathan: oiling the wheels of fortune.