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Vinod Sekhar : Malaysia's most prominent businessmen, philanthropists


NRI Vinod Sekhar ranked the 16th richest businessman in Malaysia in 2006 and 2007- Worth $350 million


Kuala Lumpur, May 30, 2007
Roop Sharma

NRI Vinod Balachandra Sekhar is one of Malaysia's most prominent businessmen, philanthropists, president and group chief executive of Petra Group and Chairman of the Sekhar Foundation, based in Kuala Lumpur, has been named by Forbes Magazine as Malaysia's 16th richest man. A name appear on Forbes top 40 richest Malaysian, in fact he appear on the list last year (2006) as well, ranked 16 also.

Vinod Sekhar’s father passed away last week. Also found out that both father and son are/were self made men. Mr Sekhar loves Cuban cigars and collects ties with Mickey Mouse motifs.

He was born August 06, 1968 and his father is the late Tan Sri Dr B.C. Sekhar, also known as Mr Natural Rubber who revolutionised the rubber industry in Malaysia. Mr Sekhar is married with two children Tara and Petra, after whom his business empire is named. He currently lives in Bukit Tunku. Shekhar through Petra Foundation and Britain-based Green Rubber Global Ltd have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Royal Society South-East Asia Rainforest Research Programme to fund a rainforest ecology research programme. Among others, the fund would facilitate research, training and environmental programme in rainforest ecology at Danum Valley, one of the world's top five tropical forest research centres.

Mr Sekhar earned his entrepreneurial stripes while at university in the United States. At the age of 21, he set up the Vincent Siefer Clothing Company, which sold college embossed shirts to students at American universities.

In 1990, he formed the STI Group with partners and was responsible for some ground breaking businesses, such as the world’s smallest optic engine, South East Asia’s first commercial internet company, and a variety of other technological innovations.

The multimedia arm of the group was also responsible for the first Malaysian joint venture to produce a movie in Disney MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida (Tarzan, the Epic adventures). After 1997, STI merged with other international interests and The Petra Group was created. The Petra Group will provide RM 8mil to the eight-year study at the Sabah Foundation-initiated Danum Valley Field Centre.

Vinod Sekhar was one of the first Malaysians to venture into the former Soviet Union after its break up and was a part of the privatization of the country’s second largest petrochemical plant. He was also the first Malaysian to own a Formula 2000 and a Formula 3 Championship motorsport teams.

Petra Group has now become a technology conglomerate that owns international patents spanning several different industries. In 2008 Petra Group plans to bring Green Rubber Global (GRG) to the Aim market in London. GRG owns a patented chemical formula called DeLink. The technology is used to devulcanise rubber so it can be recycled and used again for a wide range of applications. Investors in the company include Forbes Vice Chairman Christopher Forbes, Hollywood actor Mel Gibson and Kapil Dev, the Indian cricket legend. In late 2007 Petra appointed Lord Colin Moynihan as executive chairman of GRG to lead the company as it prepares for its IPO.

Vinod is the founder and chairman of the Petra Foundation. Mr Sekhar has placed 60 per cent of his holdings in the Petra Group into the foundation, which uses the stake to fund a wide range of educational and charitable causes in Malaysia and around the world. He sits on the board of several other Malaysian and international charitable bodies.

Petra president Datuk Vinod Sekhar said the sponsorship was in line with the group's long-term focus to help mitigate indiscriminate logging practices and to promote the importance of rainforest to humanity. Gracing the signing of the MoU was Hollywood actor and filmmaker Mel Gibson, a staunch advocate of rainforest conservation who is currently on a two-week holiday in Malaysia.

Petra expects to eventually expand its support to other research centres in Sabah and Borneo, including the Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon Conservation Areas.

In 1991, Tuanku Ja’afar Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, who was then the 10th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia, conferred on Mr Sekhar a “Datukship”, the equivalent of a knighthood in Malaysia, for his contribution to society and the Malaysian nation. He was named in 2003 by the World Economic Forum as one of 40 'New Asian Leaders'.

Mr Sekhar is a regular speaker at international business conferences. He has given addresses at the World Economic Forum gatherings in Davos, Singapore and South Korea, and in 2007 shared a stage with former US President Bill Clinton in New York, where he launched a biofuels initiative in the Caribbean.

Vinod is ranked the 16th richest businessman in Malaysia in 2006 and 2007. He is estimated by Forbes Asia to be worth RM 1.2 billion. He is also the youngest on the list.

He has written several plays and a book of poetry. One of his plays, “In the Mind’s Eye” was produced with success in the United States, United Kingdom and Malaysia. He also hosted Malaysia’s first English language talk show on television. He is also an avid golfer with a 13 handicap.



NRI Vinod Sekhar ranked the 16th richest businessman in Malaysia in 2006 and 2007
Worth $350 million