From its modest beginning as a distribution company acquired by two best friends in 1930, CMG has forayed into multiple arenas over the last ninety years, including manufacturing, media, services, hospitality and technology. Today we are one of the largest privately owned conglomerates in the nation. Our story is about the audacity to dream, the tenacity to succeed and the courage to be different.
Two friends, Subramaniam Mahadevan from Moolai, Jaffna, followed by Sinnathamby Rajandram, from Kokuvil Jaffna ventured to Colombo by destiny. They independently found employment in Colombo. Mahadevan joined L.D Seymous and Rajandram joined Dodge & Seymour two associated American companies.
When the owners of the company returned to the United States, anticipating World War II, the ambitious young friends used their life savings to acquire equal shares in both the companies. This was the first ever recorded “Management Buyout" in Sri Lanka.
L D Seymour was renamed Mahadevans Limited to handle Union Carbide products,. Eveready batteries grew to hold a commanding position in the market with almost 90% market share.
Dodge & Seymour was renamed Rajandrams Limited. They represented Parker Pens, Quink Ink, Colgate Palmolive, Yale products, Champion Spark Plugs & Thermos Flasks.
Maharaja Distributors (ICL) was formed as a subsidiary of Mahadevans Limited. The company held international agencies for Chesebrough Ponds, Wyler Watches, Cutex, Sheaffer Pens, and Becton & Dickinson Syringes.
Both companies set up island wide distribution networks for their many products.
The businessmen also acquired ownership of Sterling Products – a retail outlet that represented Old Spice and Alka Seltzer, expanding their product portfolio.
After the demise of Mahadevan in 1957, without any offspring, Rajandram became the sole owner of both companies.
A revolutionary new type of piping - PVC was introduced to the local market.
Subsequently, the first S-lon production plant was set up in 1958, together with the Parker Quink Ink Factory.
ICL under Licence Agreement with Chesebrough Ponds started producing Cosmetic products.
One year later, ICL in joint venture with Chesebrough Pounds India initiated the manufacture of Cutex, Lipstick and Nail Polish.
ICL formed yet another joint venture with Chemway International for the manufacture of Forhans & Orafoam Toothpaste.
With the demise of Rajendram, the mantle passed down to the next generation - Rajandram Maharaja and Rajandram Rajamahendran.
With the acquisition of A F Jones, the three companies - Mahadevans Limited, Rajandram Limited and Maharaja Distributors were amalgamated into - The Maharaja Organisation Limited (TMOL) on 1st of April that same year.
The group ventured into exporting other items including Furniture and Gems in order to acquire Foreign Exchange Entitlement Certificates (FEEC) to import raw materials and became Sri Lanka’s largest exporter of Gems and Jewelry at the time.
TMOL also took over the Allerton Tea Plantation company producing Surasa sugar cane jaggery, during the 70s sugar shortage. However, this soon came to a halt with the Allerton Estate being nationalized by the government of the time.
TMOL entered the vehicle business after acquiring Ceylon & Foreign Trade, the local agents for Renault, Lancia and Cagiva motorbikes.
TMOL facilitated the first Build, Own & Transfer (BOT) project in the country - the Prima Flour Mill in Trincomalee.
It was also the first project under the Greater Colombo Economic Corporation (GCEC) which was the forerunner to the current Board of Investment (BOI).
The Maharaja Organisation Project (TMO Projects) was formed, and TMOL played a leading role in the completion of the Mahaweli Project among others representing M/s Balfour Beaty , WS Atkins, Whesso Boving Foster Wheeler etc., from UK, Mitsui, Kajima, Hazama Gumi etc., from Japan and Zublin, Hochtief, etc., from Germany and Lossinger from Switzerland.
Marked TMOL’s foray into the IT space, when they formed Computer Systems Ltd. (CSL) and installed our own IMB 36 computer system.
The group partnered with DSP Forex, India and set up a money brokering company.
TMOL ventured into the rubber manufacturing business by acquiring Hettiaratchi and Company.
Later, the group moved out of the motor vehicle industry, and acquired Berec Ceylon Ltd.
ICL in joint venture with Chesebrough Ponds India set up a factory in Ratmalana.
That same year, TMOL set up J. Walter Thompson in Sri Lanka, with a 75% stake in the business.
Rumours Salon was inaugurated under the TMOL banner, making inroads to the beauty and haircare Industries.
During the civil riots in 1983, TMOL saw the destruction of several of its properties, including seven manufacturing plants and its Head Office.
Only two businesses and buildings - A F Jones and Maharaja Investments escaped this carnage.
On July 27th 1983, the Board of Directors took a decision to rebuild. TMOL moved temporarily to the A F Jones building in Dawson Street.
By divesting several of its investments including Maharaja Investments Limited and agencies such as Sagem, Honeywell, and land & buildings such as Head Office “Maharaja Building”, Hettiarachchi Building and the Berec factory, the group raised the required capital to rise from the ashes and acquired the present Head Office at Dawson Street. By May of 1985, TMOL was ready to take on greater challenges and to expand.
TMOL partnered with New Zealand Dairy Board to introduce Anchor milk powder to the local market which became the largest single market for the Anchor Brand packeted Milk Powder in the world.
S-lon ventured out as an independent operation and went on to become the largest PVC pipe producer in Sri Lanka.
The group expanded its Tea operations with the purchase of the Harrisons & Crossfield Group. This was also the year we entered the Agro Chemical market with Harrisons Chemicals.
TMOL formed Tuffline - a flexible barrier packaging company with a view to supplying Anchor with its barrier packaging requirements.
TMOL partnered with Singapore Telecom to set up DataNet and along with it, MTV Channel.
TMOL set up a Bottling Plant along with PepsiCo International as well as introduced their homegrown brand Ole’ to the local market.
That same year, TMOL forayed into air travel, becoming the General Sales Agents for both Royal Jordanian Airlines and Northwest Airlines and Cargo.
This was also the year that India’s largest advertising agency, Rediffusion partnered with TMOL and opened its offices in Colombo.
Harrisons Shipping was formed when we amalgamated two of our subsidiary shipping companies - Jones Carriers and Harrisons Cargo.
MBC Networks, marked its entry to FM Radio Channels.
TMOL had a joint venture and launched Nivaran Herbal Remedies and went into Ayurvedic products.
A joint initiative between Telekom Malaysia Berhad and TMOL resulted in Dialog starting operations in Sri Lanka and introduced GSM technology before anyone in the region and even before the USA.
This company became the largest single Mobile Operator in Sri Lanka at which point TMOL disposed of its equity to the major shareholder M/s. Axiata Malaysia.
The Maharaja Institute of Management (MIM) was formed to help groom prospective employees and potential leaders. In 2018, MIM was revamped to meet the demands of a changing business landscape.
The group divested its controlling shares of Fonterra to the New Zealand Dairy Board.
TMOL ventured into encouraging local artists and distributing the big music brands such as Sony, Universal, Venus, Alpha Digitech, etc with the formation of M-Entertainment Limited.
In January 2001 Rajandram Maharaja, Joint Managing Director of the Group retired and Rajandram Rajamahendran was appointed Chairman and Managing Director of TMOL.
Thereafter, Capital Holding Ltd,, which was totally owned by the Chairman/MD controlled the TMOL Group and was renamed The Capital Maharaja Organisation Ltd in 2006.
PE Plus, was initiated to manufacturing water tanks to expand our foray into “Water for Life”.
M Chems was formed to manufacture and distribute agro products and thereafter expanded into the distribution of pet food and litter.
We set up manufacturing facilities and entered the electrical and electronic accessories field under the Brand name Kevilton.
S-lon’s expansion programme and taking advantage of the government incentives given at that time, a modern factory was set up at Pannala.
The former S-lon factory location at Ratmalana became home to Stein Studios comprising of six studios equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for TV and movie production, with a 2300 pax auditorium launched and is today one of the largest facilities in South Asia.
The Gammadda concept was initiated by NewsFirst and thereafter Incorporated as a Foundation in 2016 underthe National NGO Secretariat catering to “The Forgotten People” beyond the rural villages of SriLanka.
From 2011 onwards ICL consistently increased the production of Eva, with new automated production lines cementing its leadership.
The Group partnered with Kansai Paints of Japan in setting up a local manufacturing plant in Koggala.
TMOL entered the hospitality industry when we managed Mas Villa and Ranna Beach Villa, two luxury boutique villas. Since then we’ve added our own properties –Fox Jaffna and Fox Kandy.
Sambole.lk an E-commerce site connecting buyers and sellers was launched by Monocron.
That same year, Urban Lifestyle Services launched Bellboy- an online marketplace for services such as plumbing, carpentry and gardening.
TMOLs media sector formed Mobile Vision and introduced Kiki - an entertainment app.
Expanding our PPE operations by entering Hand Sanitizers, Disinfectants and the production of Surgical Face Masks and KN95 Face Masks for ICL
Introducing a fully automated soap manufacturing line for ICL
Doubled the Sanitary Napkin production capacity by installing an Italian fully updated line of equipment.
Adding new equipment which included a 4 Stand Extruder and 2 High Speed Extruders to increase our production of S-lon Pipes.
A second Roofing sheet and Ceiling lines were added to S-lon
Installing an Automated racking system for S-lon
In December 2020 CMG was launched announcing the 90 Year Anniversary of the Capital Maharaja Group.