Who is Vikram Kothari? The ‘Flamboyant’ Owner of Rotomac Pens
Rotomac Pens promoter Vikram Kothari.
Rotomac Pens promoter Vikram Kothari.(Photo Courtesy: Rotomacpens.com)

Who is Vikram Kothari? The ‘Flamboyant’ Owner of Rotomac Pens

From figuring among the who's who of Indian business with a "flamboyant" lifestyle to now being at the centre of an alleged loan default controversy amounting to Rs 3,695 crores, Vikram Kothari's fortunes have been dramatically upended in a short space of time.

The creator of the Rotomac brand of pens – which might evoke fond memories of school days for many of us – Kanpur-based Kothari comes from a well-established business family.

His father, Mansukhbhai Kothari, laid the foundations of a paan masala empire in 1973, with his brand, Pan Parag, becoming a household name in no time. Originally from Gujarat, Mansukhbhai initially used to supply coconut oil to shops in Kanpur, before moving on to the paan masala business.

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The ‘Paan Masala’ Business Family

Leading Bollywood actors Shammi Kapoor and Ashok Kumar featured in the ubiquitous Pan Parag ad on television and the brand's tagline – 'Baraatiyon ka swaagat Pan Parag se kijiye' – became wildly popular.

So much so that Kanpur itself came to be called 'paan masala city', Rajendra Kumar Saffar, a neighbour of the Kotharis, told PTI.

At that time, Kothari and his brother Deepak Kothari assisted their father in managing the ever-burgeoning paan masala empire, Saffar added.

While Pan Parag was to become a private limited company in 1987, the Rotomac Pen enterprise is said to have come into existence in 1992. This was followed by the launch of the mineral water brand ‘Yes’.

The Brothers’ Split

In 1999-2000, while the Kothari family had already earned a reputation in the business world, the two brothers decided to go separate ways.

In the split described as “unusually peaceful”, Vikram took charge of the stationery and pens enterprise, while younger brother Deepak was given control of the paan masala empire as well as the ‘Yes’ mineral water brand.

'Rotomac' had a glorious run under the older Kothari brother and emerged a top player in the writing instruments market. Its promotional tagline – 'Likhtey, likhtey, love ho jaye' struck a chord with many. Bollywood stars like Salman Khan and Raveena Tandon were its brand ambassadors.

As time went by, Rotomac Pens Private Limited was rechristened as the Rotomac Global Private Limited.

In the meantime, Kothari also attempted to diversify his business dealings, venturing into the greeting cards business to compete with the likes of Archies, along with trying his hand in sectors such as real estate, steel and infrastructure. He even made an investment in Uttar Pradesh's first mall, Rave-3 , reported Hindustan Times.

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Awarded by Ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee

As he emerged as one of India’s foremost businessmen, Kothari was reportedly accorded the Best Exporter Award by the erstwhile Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and was also placed on the board of Air India.

According to the Hindustan Times, the various friends and associates of Kothari have termed him "flamboyant", a car-lover and a "risk-taker", who was also into dollar trading.

One of his old friends was quoted by the newspaper as saying:

He is known for his love for cars and star-studded parties. Even in the face of adversities, he didn’t lose his flamboyance. While battling the odds in the last one year, he threw more parties than he did in the past.
Kothari’s friend

Now, with the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate turning up the heat on Kothari and his family, the future of his many enterprises does not seem very bright.

(With inputs from PTI and Hindustan Times)

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