Sindhis Beyond Sindh

Gulu Lalvani – World’s leading Sindhi Sikh Businessman who had affair with Lady Diana

In London in 1958, Gulu and his brothers had established Binatone Electronics, a company that imported radio transistors from Japan; later, it became UK’s first company to manufacture cordless telephone sets.

Karachi-born brothers had named the company after their youngest sister Bina; The Binatone now is owned by Gulu’s son Dino and rules the market in 75 countries including Russia; Gulu is settled in Thailand since 1990s where he has established a new empire.        

Sindh Courier

Some 63 years back, Sindhi Sikh community men – Gulu Lalvani and his brothers Partap Lalvani and Dr. Kartar Lalvani established Binatone Electronics International Limited in London, UK, starting with import of radio transistor sets from Hong Kong and Japan and then manufacturing TV sets, cordless telephones and other varieties of electronic equipment. And now, over the six decades, Binatone, headed by Gulu’s son Dino Lalvani, has spread convenience, ease and value across homes in 4 continents and 75 countries. Gulu is currently settled in Thailand.

Gulu_LalvaniGulu Lalvani was born in Karachi Sindh in March 1939 to Tirath Lalvani and Sardarni Dharamkaur. He and his brothers, who migrated along with parents to Mumbai in 1947, had named the company Binatone after their youngest sister Bina who is well known socialite Bina Ramani in India.

gulu-Lalvani-3Their father had pharmacy business in Karachi since early 20th century. Gulu was one of the nine brothers and sisters. The family subsequently migrated to London during the 1960s. Dr. Kartar Lalvavi later established his own pharmaceutical company, which now is headed by his son Tej, rules the world market. (Read Sindh Courier Report published on September 22, 2021)

Gulu Lalvani with his Turkish wife

Personal Life

Gulu Lalvani’s first marriage was with Vimla Lalvani. Their son Dino Lalvani currently runs Binatone. He later married Turkish actress Semiramis Pekkan (sister of singer Ajda Pekkan) in 1987, and has a son, but it also ended in a divorce in 1996. Gulu Lalvani currently lives in Phuket, Thailand. In 2006, his daughter Divia married Joel Cadbury, son of the businessman Peter Cadbury.

Gulu Lalvani with Lady Diana

Affair with Lady Diana

Gulu Lalvani is also known around the world for his affair with Princess Diana. However, certain media reports suggest that Princess of Wales Diana had used businessman Gulu Lalvani to make her lover, heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, jealous.

Sensational claims like these were made by Paul Burrell, Dian’s butler who was accused of stealing her possessions. In a statement to the police, Burrell revealed intimate details of her affair with the doctor. He said that she was “totally in love” with Khan and was “begging him” to marry her.

Burrell let on that she went out to meet Khan on her birthday wearing nothing but a fur coat. She planned to arrange a job for him in South Africa, where she wanted to live with him.

In an effort to make Khan jealous, she went out with Binatone Managing Director Lalvani and got photographed with him.

Gulu Lalvani with family in Phket, Thailand

No Retirement

One of Asia’s leading businessmen and the UK’s fourth wealthiest Anglo Asian, Gulu first came to Phuket on holiday in 1991 and fell in love with the place. He decided to retire here but, typically for Gulu, retirement meant hard work. The result is Royal Phuket Marina – a 30-hectare multi-million dollar property on Phuket’s central east coast and Thailand’s first “world-class luxury lifestyle marina”, along with a gated community of 100 residences, including villas with private mooring, penthouses with dedicated boat ‘garage’, a health club, two floodlit tennis courts, a day spa, waterfront restaurants and boutiques.

In an interview, Gulu said, “For a long time my hobby was visiting three new destinations each year, chosen according to the four “S” factors: Sun, Sand, Sea and Sailing. In 1991 someone told me about a new resort in Phuket called Amanpuri, so I decided to try it out that Christmas. I took my wife and my family out on a yacht trip and what I saw that day was so mind boggling beautiful that before the end of the holiday I’d bought a villa at Amanpuri and stopped looking for new places to go. You could say that was the beginning of my love affair with Phuket. It was therefore a logical choice, when I retired in 2002, to move here.”

Gulu-lalvani-2“I’m retired but I’m not the sort of person to spend all day every day on a golf course or diving or in a casino. I like to be ‘doing’ things. My hobby is boating,” he told ‘Window on Phuket’.

History of Binatone

In 1958 Binatone was the first company to import transistor radios into the UK from Japan. In 1970 Binatone opened buying offices in Hong Kong. In 1974 Binatone entered the TV games market, growing the sector five times in two years. In 1978 Binatone had the bestselling TV game in the UK. In 1980 Binatone introduced its version of the Walkman and in 1981 it sold more Walkman’s than Sony. In 1983 Binatone was the first in Europe with fixed line telecom. In 1989 Binatone opened its Hong Kong headquarters.

Gulu-Lalvani-Binatone-phonesIn 1996 Binatone was the first company in Europe to introduce Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) telephones. In 2002 Binatone was the 2nd DECT telephone manufacturer in the world. Binatone was the official shirt sponsor of Queens Park Rangers Football Club in 2003/2004, 2004/2005 and 2005/2006. In 2004 Binatone entered the Russian telephone market with the Voxtel brand. In 2005 Binatone Telecom was in 55 countries with average growth of 30% per annum. In 2006 Binatone was the 3rd largest telephone manufacturer in Russia with 25% market share.

In 2007 Binatone introduced its satellite navigation (GPS) range in Europe and Asia Pacific. In 2007 Binatone was appointed as one of five council board members of Deutsche Telecom. In 2008 Binatone was purchased by Dino Lalvani, son of Gulu Lalvani and formerly its COO and Sales and Marketing Director. Dino Lalvani, 35, has been primarily responsible for Binatone’s international expansion and success. In 2008 Binatone was appointed Global Licensee of Motorola Digital Photo Frames, Video and Baby Monitors and North American Licensee of Motorola Digital Corded and Cordless Phones. In 2009 Binatone celebrated its 50th anniversary. In 2009 Binatone was the third largest in satellite navigation (GPS) with 10% market share in the UK. Binatone had 28% market share in the UK in telephones.

Between 1976 and 1979, Binatone produced the “Binatone TV Master” series of first generation video game consoles.

Binatone also manufactures baby monitors, pet monitors, headphones and car accessories under the Motorola brand name under an agreement with Motorola Mobility and earlier, Motorola Inc.

Binatone operates a subsidiary Hubble Connected that acts as a platform for connected devices. It acquired a Bengaluru, India-based startup Connovate in 2014 that merged into Hubble. In 2016, Gulu’s son Dino Lalvani announced that Binatone intended to sell 20% of Hubble while shifting its corporate offices from the United States to Bengaluru, India.

Our next generation of baby monitors at Hubble Connected allow local and remote viewing, so you can keep an eye on your loved ones wherever you are via compatible smartphones and tablets using the HubbleClub app. Its infrared night vision allows you to keep an eye on things even in low light

Binatone-home-productBy manufacturing Electric Cooking Plate, they have revolutionized the kitchen with Binatone’s dual table top electric plate cooker. It not only adds functionality to kitchen but also comes in dazzling white.

Binatone- Dino
Dino Lalvani

Dino Lalvani is Chairman of Binatone since 2008 when he purchased the company from his father Gulu Lalvani.

Dino Lalvani, had been instrumental in building Binatone into one of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies in his previous roles as Group COO and Sales and Marketing Director.


Source: Market Wire, Web Archive, Wikipedia, Computing History, ZIMS, Celebrity Born, Window on Phuket, Fame Chain, India Today and other websites


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