Ananda Krishnan 101: The Enigmatic Malaysian-Tamil Billionaire
Zatrun Published at June 02, 2024

Ananda Krishnan, fondly known as A.K., was born on 1st April 1938 in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. With roots tracing back to Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Krishnan’s journey is a testament to his unwavering pursuit of knowledge and excellence. He commenced his education at the Vivekananda Tamil School in Brickfields and furthered his studies at the prestigious Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur.

As a Colombo Plan scholar, Krishnan embarked on a transformative academic journey at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where he pursued a B.A. (Honours) degree in political science. Following his undergraduate studies, Krishnan continued to expand his horizons by pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at Harvard Business School, successfully graduating in 1964. This commitment to education and intellectual growth has been a defining aspect of his life.

The Multifaceted Entrepreneur

Ananda Krishnan’s entrepreneurial spirit ignited with his first venture, MAI Holdings Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian consultancy. This endeavor laid the foundation for his future business acumen. Krishnan’s journey saw him delve into diverse sectors, from oil drilling concessions and gambling to multimedia. He established Exoil Trading, a company that went on to acquire oil drilling concessions across multiple countries. In the early 1990s, Krishnan ventured into the dynamic world of multimedia, marking a pivotal moment in his career.

Krishnan’s business empire spans various industries, including media (Astro), satellite (MEASAT), oil and gas (Bumi Armada, Pexco), telecommunications (Maxis, Sri Lanka Telecom), and leisure (TGV Cinemas) and property (including the iconic Maxis Tower). His strategic investments and diverse portfolio are a testament to his astute business vision.

Ananda Krishnan: A Multimedia Maestro

Ananda Krishnan’s influence in the multimedia landscape is profound. He gained prominence by collaborating with Bob Geldof to organize the Live Aid concert in the mid-1980s. Subsequently, he embarked on building a multimedia conglomerate that includes two telecommunication giants, Maxis Communications and MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems, along with three communication satellites orbiting the Earth.

Krishnan played a pivotal role in the acquisition of a 46% stake in Maxis Communications, Malaysia’s largest cellular phone company, solidifying his position in the telecommunications industry. He also holds interests in Sri Lanka Telecom and plans to introduce TV channels catering to the Indian market, with a particular focus on Tamil audiences in the US, Western Europe, and the Middle East. His multimedia ventures extend to stakes in and the Shaw Brothers movie archives, reflecting his commitment to shaping the media landscape.

A Philanthropic Trailblazer

Beyond his business ventures, Ananda Krishnan is a philanthropist dedicated to making a meaningful impact. Through Usaha Tegas and its subsidiaries, he supports education, the arts, sports, and humanitarian causes in Malaysia. His commitment to education is evident through initiatives like the Harapan Nusantara education fund, which sponsors students to attend specialized programs at local private universities collaborating with foreign institutions. Additionally, Krishnan established the Yu Cai Education Foundation to support ethnic Chinese groups.

In 2006, his media company, Astro, introduced a scholarship program for Malaysian undergraduate and graduate students studying media and broadcasting. Krishnan’s philanthropic efforts extend to projects like the Montfort Girls Centre, which empowers orphaned and underprivileged girls by enhancing their vocational skills.

In 2010, Ananda Krishnan was recognized on Forbes’ list of 48 Heroes of Philanthropy, cementing his status as a benevolent trailblazer. In 2015, he launched the Yu Cai Foundation (YCF) through the Usaha Tegas Group, furthering his commitment to education by providing scholarships for Mandarin-based schools and grants to educational institutions promoting the study of vernacular languages, especially Mandarin and English.

Ananda Krishnan’s life is a remarkable tapestry of business acumen, intellectual pursuit, and philanthropic endeavors. His journey, from a young scholar to a multimedia magnate and philanthropic luminary, is a testament to his unwavering commitment to making a meaningful impact on the world., your trusted source for comprehensive profiles of influential figures, delves into the enigmatic world of Ananda Krishnan, unveiling the facets of his life and legacy.

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