(For the (fictional) art collective known as the 'Atlas Group' see Walid Raad.)
The Atlas Group is a diversified dealing in engineering, financial services and trading. The Atlas Group was laid in 1962, with the establishment of Shirazi Investments (Private) Limited. It consists of seven public limited companies out of which six are quoted on the stock exchanges in Pakistan, and five private limited companies.
The terms Atlas Group and Atlas Network are also applied to a global organisation of about 300 think tanks which are connected to the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute, and also to the US-based Atlas Economic Research Foundation/Institute at George Mason University in Washington DC. They promote the unfettered free-market economic philosophy originally promoted by Frederick Hayek, Milton Friedman, and the Mont Pelerin Society.
These organizations were founded in 1981 during the Cold War era at a time when zealous anti-Communism was rife. The economic views of the wealth promoters of these organizations came from the far right and believed strongly in the Reaganomics 'trickle-down theory' -- that lower tax for the wealthy eventually trickled down and benefited the poor. The name 'Atlas' was taken from Atlas Shrugged, and reveals the (Ayn) Rand-ian economic and social philosophy of their founder, Sir Antony Fisher (one of Margaret Thatcher's backers and gurus).
Fisher had made his millions from large-scale intensive chicken farming, and he was the primary driver in setting up all of the above (and many more - perhaps 150 in total) 'libertarian' think tanks around the world. He remarried, and migrated to America where he initially set up the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco. In establishing the Atlas Foundation and the Network itself, Fisher also partnered with Loctite billionaire, Robert Krieble who also ran his own think-tanks (various Krieble Institutes: mainly with an Eastern European focus). http://thinktank-watch.blogspot.com/2007/12/sir-anthony-fisher.html
Fisher's daughter, Linda Whetstone, is still actively involved in all of the above think-tanks and in running the network. And the Atlas Foundation holds annual conferences of member think-tanks from around the globe. It also circulates information, helps establish new libertarian/Randian think-tanks, and passes corporate commissions down to regional members.
These partisan political organisations received generous pump-priming and early backing from the billionaire family trust-funds controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife, Joseph Coors, the heirs of John M Olin, Lynde and Harry Bradley, Charles and David Koch and the like. The Heritage Foundation, Heartlands Foundation, Cato Institute, and Citizens for a Sound Economy (now FreedomWorks) were early members of the network which worked diligently to promote corporate interests. The ideological and free-market-support activities of the think-tank movement then attracted even more generous on-going funds from global corporations and umbrella groups like those of the global tobacco industry. http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/jmi97g00/pdf
The Atlas Foundation has its own training center at George Mason University for teaching professional lobbyists how to organize and run a think-tank. It provides 'scholarships' and 'seed money' potential libertarian lobbyists/think-tank founders around the world, and operates under the name Institute for Humane Studies. This organization was run for many years by economist James Bennett and is housed alongside Fred Singer's Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), the Mercatus Center, Center for the Study of Public Choice, and the John Locke Institute—all well-known corporate lobby-tanks. Through the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Institute for Humane Studies also administers the 'Hayek Fund for Scholars' and a number of sister programs to fund academics and staffers for like-minded groups across the country. See IHS http://www.thenation.com/article/161973/alec-exposed-koch-connection and http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/czi11d00/pdf
List of companies in the commercial Atlas Group
- Atlas Honda Limited
- Atlas Battery Limited
- Atlas Power Limited
- Atlas Engineering Limited
- Honda Atlas Cars Pakistan
- Atlas Insurance Limited
- Atlas Asset Management Limited
- Shirazi Investment (Private) Limited
- Shirazi Trading Company (Private) Limited
- Honda Atlas Power Product (Private) Limited
- Atlas Hitec (Private) Limited
- Atlas Worldwide General Trading LLC
- Atlas Venture Limited
- Atlas Autos (Private) Limited