John Abraham: Mr Congeniality and a Savvy Businessman

John Abraham is one of those few actors in Bollywood who has managed to steer clear off controversies. Besides being a secure actor, John also takes pride in the fact that he’s remain unchanged with success.

When you talk about the richest Bollywood stars, the person whose name is not very likely to me mentioned is John Abraham. However, not many are aware that John, whose educational qualification includes a Masters in Management Studies (from Bandra’s MET), owns several profitable business and has assets (properties) around the world.

Here’s what John owns (this is only his real estate portfolio):

  • Commercial property in Central London (overseas arm of his production house)
  • Residential property in Bel Air, Los Angeles (home to Hollywood stars Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt)
  • Duplex penthouse on Bandra-Bandstand Green Acre, Khar (also houses his production office and interiors firm)
  • JA Fitness gym, Worli spread over 15,000 sq ft. JA Fitness gym, Pune: spread over 4,000 sq ft

Middle-Class Upbringing

As you can see, John Abraham’s investment pattern reflects a typical middle-class mindset; he invests heavily in real estate, but minus all the flashy fanfare.

John’s father, Abraham John is an architect from Aluva in Kerala, mother Phiroza Irani (a Zoroastrian) is into social service & brother Alan is an architect.

John’s friends credit his middle-class upbringing for the actor’s frugal lifestyle, and interest in real estate investment.

Before John moved into his penthouse, he used to live in a 700 square feet flat on the terrace of the same building (where his duplex now stands) for five years. The house was split into two: one half had the bathroom and kitchen, and the other was fitted with a sofa that would turn into a bed at night. He had clothes enough to fit into just one giant suitcase.

Built a Strong & Positive Brand for Himself

John doesn’t smoke or drink, is a fitness freak, sleeps by 10 and wakes up at 4 am, doesn’t dance at weddings, is not a part of any camp. The result: John has built a better & positive brand for himself that helps him bag bigger endorsement deals, despite other actors in his league doing better at the box office (they earn far less from endorsements).

John Abraham was offered hefty amounts to endorse underwear brands after his bottom-moment in the film ‘Dostana’, but he refused them all.

In April 2006, John rammed his Hayabusa bike into a bicycle on Carter Road, but John immediately rushed the two injured to the hospital (didn’t flee from the accident scene.)

It was front page news when Madison Mates, the celebrity management firm owned by Madison World, signed John for a Rs 100 crore minimum guarantee deal over a period of three years. And what was the reason?

“John has always had a youthful, Westernoriented personality which is mature without being flippant. We think his personality reaches out to the urban youth who aspire for a better life. He exemplifies qualities such as stability and credibility in the way he conducts himself, makes him a wanted face,” said Sam Balsara, managing director, Madison World.

For John, acting happened by accident. His boss asked him to fill in for a model playing truant on the shoot of Live-In Jeans, with late model Viveka Babajee. Several ads later, he participated in the Gladrags Mr India contest and went on to win it. In 2003, Mahesh Bhatt gave him a break in Jism; the success of ‘Force’ changed everything around John, and today he’s tuned a successful film producer. He’s probably the only Indian male model-turned-actor to have made it to the elite club.

Today, John’s businesses are built around the areas he is passionate about – production house, a football team, a few start-ups and a fitness company. He is set to venture into businesses that involve corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, motorbikes and clothing.

John considers himself a serious investor, but says that he realised it only when he saw big money for the first time. “I grew up very comfortably, but when I saw a lot of money for the first time, I became cautious. Two things happen when you see a lot of money—you either splurge or become overly cautious. I became the latter,” says John.

“For example, the first time I booked a room in a five-star hotel, though I had the money, I felt guilty. So I negotiated and got a fantastic rate, inclusive of all taxes, breakfast, dinner and four pieces of laundry. Someone will think, he is an actor, he doesn’t have to look into this space. Others may know the price of everything; I know the value of everything.”

His production house ‘JA Entertainment’ has produced films such as Vicky Donor (movie on sperm-donation), Madras Cafe (Rajiv Gandhi assassination) and Rocky Handsome. “My production house is an active investment and that is my core. Everything else will be built around that.”

Abraham is trying to build a library of credible content before going to Hollywood. “Not today, may be tomorrow. It takes time to build that library, to understand and go to studios in Los Angeles. I think I can do it. It is important to cross over, (but) at the same time do well domestically so that there is investor faith or viewer faith in what you are doing.”

John Abraham also owns stake in NorthEast United Football Club, an Indian Super League football franchise based in Guwahati. Abraham believes football will grow exponentially while cricket will grow incrementally or may even stagnate. “My football team. Right now there is a lot of cash outflow but I feel there is a propensity for massive value asset creation. When the popularity of the Indian Super League increases, there is going to be a certain value asset creation.”

What about Stocks & mutual funds?
John says he’s wary of investing directly in stocks. and takes the equity-based mutual funds route. John invests in equity-linked mutual funds (through his chartered accountant) and believes that its the best thing to do for long-term investments – great for growth and not risky.

Abraham is also keen to invest in start-ups and wants to be a part of their success story. Abraham is involved in a food app, is keen on investing in the e-wallet app space, and also keen on investing in fitness apps. Being an actor comes handy in spotting the right start-up from the wrong, he says. “As an actor, you are sensitive to energies. When you look at people, you can actually read them easily. You can pick up certain qualities because they treat you as if you don’t know anything. And that is my biggest advantage.”

John owns a gym chain that goes by the name JA Fitness (JA is short for John Abraham). “I know that the fitness industry is a sunrise industry, and I also know that rentals are killing the gym business. Every gym business is a losing proposition. Now how do I monetise effectively? What is the model that I should create? Do I acquire space or get a franchise? I am still working in a space where I need to monetise, and at the same time reach out to audience.”

Also Read: How to build a body like John Abraham.

Another area that Abraham feels holds untapped value is celebrity management. “Let’s face it: agents or agencies that are handling actors or models are just agencies. There is zero value-add. They take you to the client and tell the client that ‘take this actor, he is happening.’ Or, at the most he will say, ‘he is young and you have a young brand.’ That is not rocket science. The actor can think for himself. What we are trying to do is add a Z axis to this X and Y axis—to make it three- dimensional. We are working on it and will put it into action really soon.”

Everyone knows that John is passionate about motorbikes (loves to ride and to restore old ones), and he plans to invest in that segment too. “Bikes is one area that I really want to tread into. I want to pick up old vintage bikes and do a Jay Leno and have my own garage where I will probably auction the stuff. You must have heard of a Ferrari that got auctioned for $38 million. I won’t be so lucky, but if I can start from somewhere and create value from nothing.” Someone who is really effective in that space, he says, is India’s one-day cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who owns over thirty motorcycles. “He is so passionate, and in Ranchi, he has the space to keep them also.”

For investing in real estate, John suggests going a lawyer. Says John, “In my greed for acquisition, I sometimes closed the deal before reading the contract. In that I got hurt. I don’t speak about all builders, but the builder lobby can be very dangerous if you don’t tread carefully. And I have been bitten more than once.”

Abraham’s list of ventures includes taking equity in international brands. “I am looking at taking up some equity in brands rather than a fee. These would be international brands that would come into this country to grow here. Rather than just taking an actor fee or celebrity endorsement fee, I would tie up with a brand and grow with it in the country.”

Says John about wife Priya (an ex-World Bank employee) “She actually has the knowledge and vision of how we can regulate cash flow and streamline things, which I think is a big value-add. She’s helping me structure my financial portfolio.”

With inputs frpm Livemint.

John Abraham Lends Support To Solar Electricity Project for Villages

John Abraham Lends Support To Solar Electricity Project for Villages Most of us know that Mr Amitabh Bachchan is helping several causes that aim to provide solar electricity to rural India, but not many are aware that their are other Bollywood celebrities as well who’re supporting similar causes.

John Abraham is one of them, and is lending support to Solar electricity projects for Villages. There are actually quite a few celebrities who’re supporting the ‘Green’ cause.

The hunk actor has associated himself with ‘PowerLight A Village’, a social initiative launched by Garnier Men (endorsed by John) that aims to provide solar electricity to remote villages across the country.

John Abraham, who has done his masters in business administration (MBA), is well aware of the fact that several villages in India still don’t have access to electricity, and going solar is a practical way of solving that problem. He has also urged all his fans to support the cause and make a difference.

Garnier will be working closely with Chirag Rural Development Foundation, who’ll be their implementation partner and have been championing the cause of rural electrification through solar energy in India.