Mr. Murari Lal Jalan or MLJ as his team fondly calls him, was born on 1 August 1964 in Ranchi, a small town in Eastern part of India. With his eagerness to excel from an early age, he was always ahead of his peers during his schooling. He started out with his professional life in his early teens and joined the family business of paper trading. From paper trading to his latest acquisition of India’s oldest private airlines, Jet Airways, Mr. Jalan’s has come a long way. His mantra for life has been clear, keep it simple and put in your hard work and dedication to what you do. When each failure will make you learn more, each success will push you to achieve more!
Mr. Jalan’s professional career over the years until now can be categorized in the following phases – The Learning Curve, The Growing Curve, Business Give Returns, The UZ Breakthrough, and The Rising Sun.
The Learning Curve – Mr Jalan jumped into the business arena in his early teens, working tirelessly with his father and brothers to run the Paper Trading Business. He started accompanying his father’s paper trading office to learn the nuances of trading and soon started travelling to cities for business dealings independently. In his late teens to early Twenty’s, he was already able to secure dealerships of some of the major paper manufacturing units of India on his own and drive his father’s paper trading business forward to new heights. Mr Jalan was early to catch the glimpse of the photo imaging industry and converting an idea into an opportunity, Mr. Jalan established his first photo processing lab in Ranchi in 1987. Within years, he established over 20 labs across India. What started as a trading business to learn the curves of business minds, led to the establishment of a successful photo image industry.
The Growth Curve – Mr Jalan is a visionary. After having established his photo imaging industry in India, he had built his self-confidence as an entrepreneur. This confidence and a razor sharp visionary brain took him to Russia in 1992 with the intent to expand his photo imaging business outside India. But this was different, it was an unknown turf as he had no knowledge of the language and the local culture. With his “Never Give Up” attitude, Mr. Jalan was quick to learn Russian and expanded the photo imaging business in the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. This opened new doors for him, and he acquired distribution of photo imaging products of renowned company – Konica Minolta. The mid Ninety’s expanded his Growth Curve as he expanded his business from Moscow and St. Petersburg to other ex-Soviet Countries. The 1998 financial crisis in Russia brought challenges with itself but as the popular English proverb goes “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” With the support of his colleagues and his focus on the fundamentals, Mr Jalan weathered the storm with ease. During his Growth Curve, Mr Jalan really came off age as a businessman and by dedicating his energies in his mainstay business of photo imaging, he went on to become the world’s largest distributor for Konica Minolta.
Business Give Returns – Mr Jalan is of the firm belief that no investment gives higher returns than investing in your business. With this moto, Mr Jalan expanded his business horizon by investing his profits in multiple paper manufacturing units in India, diversifying his business into mining, trading, FMCG, renewable energy, and other financial and strategic investments across the Globe. This vision of diversifying into multiple business segments, not only hedged his risks and investments but also helped him create more job opportunities and wealth. With the Middle East on his growth trajectory, Mr Jalan was quick to hold the winds of change, and expanded into real estate development by moving his business headquarters to Dubai. Mr Jalan established his brand MJ Developers and did multiple low cost housing developments in middle east to learn the tricks of real estate construction and development by investing over USD 100 Million. The investments were quick to give the required returns and with his moto of reinvestment, he invested more than INR 100 Crores in the real estate sector as soon as the sector opened for foreign investments in 2007/ 2008 by launching the Orion IT City. Mr Jalan’s capital investment in Orion IT in current market terms is valued at approx. USD 100 Million. Having lived in Kolkata during his Learning Curve, Mr Jalan wanted to create real estate marvels in Kolkata and Orion IT was his vision of a financial hub in the heart of the city. This also gave him the opportunity to give back something to his motherland, India. With the business simultaneously growing well in the middle east, Mr. Jalan enjoyed good success in the emirate and diversified from low cost housing to heavy duty construction equipment leasing business. These years in Dubai, also saw Mr. Jalan diversifying his investment portfolio in sports, renewable energy and most importantly in healthcare. One of Mr. Jalan’s notable investments during this period for acquiring a minority stake in the renowned Medanta Medicity Hospital, Gurugram. This was the period which saw the business group headed by Mr. Jalan expand in scale and geography and transform it from an entrepreneurial venture to a multinational institution. With the proactive policies of the UAE Government, Mr. Jalan enjoys a 10 year golden investor visa in Dubai.
The UZ Breakthrough – Having spent years in Russia, Mr. Jalan has always been fascinated with the CIS Region and really looked at the region as a land of opportunity. Mr. Jalan diversified into Uzbekistan in the Health Care Sector in 2010 by setting up an eye care clinic.But he was poised for something bigger in Uzbekistan. When the Uzbekistan economy opened up for real estate investments by foreign investors, Mr Jalan was one of the first to capture it. Due to his presence in Uzbekistan since 2010, he was ahead of the curve than most investors as he had already completed his market research on potential of real estate development in Uzbekistan. Mr. Jalan has committed an initial investment of USD 100 Million for the construction and development of four real estate projects across the spectrum (residential, commercial, educational, hospitality, and recreational) in major cities of Uzbekistan. The construction works have already started in all the 4 projects which comprise of a built up space of 3.5 million square meters with approx. 30,000 apartments and various other institutions including university, schools, hospitals, hotels, shopping areas, aqua park, commercial business centres and many more.
Honestly, Mr Jalan’s thrust for aviation started with Uzbekistan in early 2020 when we initiated discussions with the Government of Uzbekistan to develop a new international Airport in Namangan City, Uzbekistan. The discussions on airport development and management drew his attention to setting up a new Full Service Airline in Uzbekistan. Having spent 10 years in Uzbekistan, Mr Jalan understands the country dynamics and its growth potential and so decided to venture into aviation in Uzbekistan, to give a boast to tourism. Mr Jalan was quick to understand that after having established an international airport, a world class smart city and a 5 star hotel in Namangan City, an airline catering to the city on priority would connect the dots for him perfectly, establishing a running cycle of revenue and returns. As part of this venture (airport development and full service airline), Mr Jalan will be the majority shareholder on both ventures. Mr Jalan plans to launch his domestic airlines in Uzbekistan with more than 25 aircrafts (a mix of Boeing 737-800; Airbus A320 neo and Boeing 787 Dreamliner) and a charter aircraft company to cater to HNIs and Ultra HNIs. The charter aircraft company will have Bombardier Challenger 650, Global 6000, and Augusta Helicoptersas part of its fleet.
The Rising Sun – Mr Jalan’s thrust for aviation got the right push in May 2020 when Jet Airways went under the hammer for the fourth time. When major aviation company decided to stay away from new acquisitions, Mr Jalan saw the absolute potential in Jet Airways. Jet Airways is a common household aviation brand in India and the oldest private airlines having a history of more than 25 years. Jet Airways has a strong legacy and with Kingfisher Airways already shut and Air India going through a potential sale process, it created that perfect space for a full-service airline to return to the skies. The aviation sector was deeply hit by COVID-19, but that helped the sector as it underwent substantial correction and created that opportune time for Mr Jalan to enter. With aircrafts and human capital out in abundance, Mr Jalan knew there is no better time to enter the Indian aviation market than now! Mr Jalan was quick to vision the opportunity and potential and without wasting time, he put together the core team to lead the research and acquisition strategy. Mr Jalan’s core principles have been to invest in human capital and let the right man do the right job. It is the core principles of Mr Jalan which helped him complete the entire acquisition process of Jet Airways in less than 6 months. But the task is not yet achieved. Mr Jalan’s vision is to put Jet 2.0 back to its old glory, with more than 100 aircrafts; 600 daily routes and the tag of the best corporate full service airline.
The vision is there, the roadmap is laid down, the team is being built up and the man is on the ground stationed, to put Jet Airways back in the skies and see the Rising Sun out in the clouds..
Giver’s Gain – God has been kind in helping Mr. Jalan walk the path he envisioned and Mr Jalan he has always been conscious of his social responsibilities and always looked for an opportunity to give back to the society. The more you give, the more you gain. He has contributed his time, efforts and resources in creating his own philanthropic institutions along with helping numerous other institutions who have been involved in various activities including providing free mid-day meals, distributing free artificial limbs to the handicapped, teaching students in make shift schools in remote areas, providing medical care to the needy, and providing food and PPE kits to front line medics during the ongoing global pandemic COVID-19 in Uzbekistan, and many other such activities.
Mr. Jalan is a family man, an avid reader, an ardent cricket fan with a liking for movies. He has created wealth through his vision and hard work and believes in using this wealth for the well-being of those in need. He is a true visionary who is eager to learn at every given opportunity. His moto remains the same, “Keep it simple” and “don’t look up when you are executing, the applause around you will say that you are doing well“. With his second generation now in business, he is a guiding force to them. He is an Indian national, a UAE resident, but truly a world citizen.