Business icon Prabhakar Rana passes away

Kathmandu, May 31

A pioneer of Nepali tourism industry, Prabhakar SJB Rana, who was known for his morally guided business attitude, passed away while undergoing treatment in New York, on Thursday. He was 84.

More than profits, Rana believed in earning credibility and transparency in his business because ‘that’s what makes businesses successful’. Founder and chairman emeritus of Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Rana was also recognised for his initiative to bring an international hotel chain to Nepal.

Soaltee, which was founded in 1966 by late prince Himalaya Bikram Shah and late princess Princep Rajya Laxmi, was later converted to a public limited company in 1975 with the involvement of Rana. Since then, Rana had maintained a corporate culture at Soaltee that makes it one of the best hotels in the country.

He also served in many public and private sector undertakings. Starting with the hotel industry, Rana expanded his business to travel and trekking, automobiles, tea garden and hydropower projects. In order to make the tourism industry more responsible and to regulate it, he was instrumental in establishing Hotel Association Nepal and Pacific Asia Travel Association.

It was in 1982 that Rana founded Sipradi Trading, the authorised dealer of Tata Motors in Nepal. Later in 1986, he invested in Surya Nepal under joint partnership with firms of India and UK.

In 1996, he started Bhotekoshi Power Company — the first privately funded, run-of-the-river power project in Nepal.

Besides, he also invested in Himalayan Tea Garden and Amravati Travels. Until recently he was working on Soaltee Westend Hotel in Nepalgunj.

Rana was a living history of Nepali business industry and foreign affairs, witnessing all the historical moments from the Rana regime to the Shah dynasty, said Suresh Acharya, a person who worked closely with former secretariat of the Royal Palace. “Rana was a first generation industrialist of Nepal. Starting his career in the hotel industry, he built an empire with honesty and long-term vision. Not only in business, he has contributed to other areas as well,” he said.

He worked closely with the Shah kings. According to Acharya, Rana was both professionally and personally close with late kings Mahendra and Birendra and in recent times with former king Gyanendra. “He worked as foreign affairs adviser to Birendra. Before taking any decision on national policies or foreign matters, Birendra used to counsel with Rana,” he added. Rana was also close to Gyanendra, both personally and professionally.”

Issuing a press statement today, HAN said Rana could solely be credited for introducing international standards in the hospitality sector of the country.