Property tycoon “PNC” Menon had a tough childhood and has now pledged half his fortune to helping the poor.
In a classic rags-to-riches story, the boy who grew up poor in Kerala, India, became the founder and chairman of Sobha Realty.
And his company has just made a strategic move into Mayfair, with a new global studio in Park Lane.
Known as PNC Menon, his full name is Puthan Neduvakkatt Chenthamaraksha Menon.
His father died when he was just 10-years-old and his mother was frequently ill.
This meant he was unable to complete his education and didn’t get to experience a normal childhood.
“I never even played a game,” he says.
But fast track 60 years or so and Menon’s company Sobha Realty now occupies 22 Park Lane, a prime position in Mayfair.
“The UK is an international place,” says Menon.
“London is the centre of the whole world – the commercial capital of the world, so if you are here on Park Lane, the whole world will come to you.”
Sobha offers exquisite real estate in some of the world’s most sought-after locations from the United Arab Emirates, to Oman, Bahrain, Brunei and India.
At the last count, Menon was worth a cool $1.1 billion.
Helping the poor
But he doesn’t take his wealth for granted. He is deeply committed to helping those less fortunate than himself.
He often travels back to Kerala, the state in the south west of India where he grew up, to help two poor villages.
“My view is very simple,” he says.
“I came from nothing. I am lucky to have made my money.
“After a certain point in time, money cannot make a difference in your life. I feel it’s not even called charity – it’s about accountability and responsibility of society.”
Read the full interview with Selma Day, editor of the Mayfair Times here.