Shahid Balwa, From a College Dropout to 66th Richest Person in India

Shahid Balwa and D B Realty

D B Realty, a company owned by Shahid Balwa is known for throwing lavish parties and its close connections with the top players in the government, political parties and Bollywood.  Shahid Balwa, 37, who is also a famous Mumbai restaurateur, is the co-owner of construction and real estate firm D B Realty, which has seen an unexpected growth in the past five years.  He is remain unfazed by the 2G scam and resulted media rendezvous.

D B Realty has an amazing growth story in the Mumbai’s cutthroat real estate industry. It is the third largest real estate company in India, at present. Shahid has a fleet of luxury cars including BMW 7 series.   His other companies include DB Hospitality and Etisalat DB Telecom, the company which came to limelight following the infamous 2G scam.  Dynamix Balwas, better known as D B, is a joint venture between the Balwas and Vinod Goenka. Following the 2G scam investigations, Shahid Balwa was arrested from his Bandra residence in Mumbai and the entire real estate industry of the megacity was taken by a surprise.

Family background and dropping out of college

Balwa belongs to a Gujarati family, which migrated to Mumbai prior to his birth. They started their restaurant business in Mumbai, which flourished soon after.

His family still owns a small home in Mumbai Central. He joined St Mary's School in Mazgaon, a South Mumbai island.  He is acknowledged as 66th richest person in India with a whopping USD 1 billion empire and also one of the richest persons in the world by the Forbes magazine.  He speaks Gujarati fluently. He couldn’t complete his education and dropped out of college to join his family hotel business in Mumbai central.

Expansion of family owned restaurant chain in Mumbai

Shahid’s father Usman Balwa began to expand the restaurant chain belonging to Balwa family in Marine Lines and Mumbai Central and Shahid was appointed to supervise it.

In the 90s, with the growth and expansion of their restaurant business, the family moved to a bungalow in Bandra from their Mumbai Central home. The home was bought for Rs. 2 crore, the present value of which is more than Rs. 75 crore.

Formation of D B Realty

In 2006, Shahid Balwa partnered with developer and builder Vinod Goenka and launched D B Realty.  The ambitious construction company soon became the owner of various projects comprising of 21 million sq feet area that was available for sale. They had an additional 40 million sq ft space in their soon to be launched projects.  So, in total, they have a 60 million sq ft space, which is in various developmental stages, at present.  Some of these ongoing projects include a luxury high-rise building and also a 108 storied five star Hotel Park Hyatt in Mumbai.

A realty company with top political connections

D B Realty is known to be a real estate company, which has close relationships in the corridors of power in both state and central government.  It helped them get their projects approved by the bureaucrats much faster than their other counterparts.  In 2010, D B Realty seized the redevelopment rights of a large area in Bandra East and Ackruti City known for its luxurious high-rises and apartments. They also won similar rights in Kakade project in Pune. According to other builders, government was not fair in approach in inviting tenders for these projects.

D B Realty is also known to benefit from parking policy announced by the government, in which additional FSI was given to them.  Shahid Balwa also partnered with Etisalat, a Dubai based state owned telecom enterprise for their ongoing project in India. Etisalat is said to be a monopolist back home in UAE and is known for unfair pricing. It’s one of the most expensive telecom services in the world.  Balwa’s venture with Etisalat was named as D B Etisalat.

Personal Life

Shahid Balwa married a Mumbai girl and has two children. He has a brother named Asif Balwa and his father in Usman Balwa, a restaurateur.   He dropped out of college to run and expand his family business of restaurants. He is a living proof that college degrees are irrelevant, when it comes to making financial fortune and getting super rich in no time.  

Arrest and bail for involvement in infamous 2G scam

CBI arrested Shahid Balwa in February, 2011 to investigate the alleged transfer of Rs. 206 crores to Kalaingar TV, a media enterprise owned by the ruling DMK party in Chennai.  Former telecom minister A Raja was also charge sheeted for helping DB Etisalat to win 2G telecom licenses in top 13 circles of the country.  The amount involved was Rs. 15 billion and DB Etisalat won these licenses in 2008, thanks to their political connections and bribes.  A few senior IT officials helped Balwa in transferring this amount illegally to DMK TV to ultimately reach DMK party chief M Karunanidhi’s party members, who were involved in 2G licensing scam. 

Swan Telecom (D B Etisalat) hired a retired commissioner from income tax department and lured another working senior officer, so that IT department does not track the transfer of money to DMK’s TV. Former telecom minister A Raja, who is also from DMK, is supposed to be prime beneficiary of this fund bribed by D B Etisalat.  Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, who has a 20% stake in Kalaignar TV was also alleged to collude with A Raja to arrange the money transfer from D B Etisalat.  D B is also alleged to use Cineyug Films for a series of money transfers to various politicians and bureaucrats. CBI also conducted a raid on Cineyug Films to trace these fund transfers. Several Tamil Nadu ministers tried to block the investigations by CBI and IT dept during those raids.

Shahid’s brother Asif Balwa was also arrested for his involvement in the scam.  Shahid Balwa was later released on bail by Delhi high court.

Charitable Work

Shahid Balwa, the billionaire is also known for charity work.  He generously donates money in both the fields of health and education.  He has opened Balwa’s High School for this purpose. He has also opened a Medical Institute in Phirozpura in his native Gujarat state. He has ambitious plans to expand its capability to educate 20,000 on-campus students within a decade.

Salary of Shahid Balwa

We have not found salary data of Shahid Balwa the co-owner of construction and real estate firm D B Realty from any reliable sources like ToI, Forbes, ET and other reputed news papers and Media houses, even we have not found salary detail of Shahid Balwa in BusinessWeek magazine too, but as per the Forbes Shahid Balwa was at 937th position in the year 2010 in the list of world's billionaires.

Last Updated: June 17, 2013

Tags : Shahid Balwa, Asif Balwa, 2G scam, D B Realty, college dropout, billionaire, D B Etisalat

About Nashaat Quadri

Freelance Content Writer (Compare Infobase, New Delhi.) Ex Sr Content Writer, Western Software, New Delhi. Ex Relationship Manager, Mashreq Bank, Dubai.