Companies

Woman heir seeks board seat in Murugappa holding company

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on January 05, 2020 Published on January 05, 2020

Valli Arunachalam

Valli Arunachalam, her sister and mother hold 8.15% stake in Ambadi Investments

A family feud is brewing in the ₹40,000-crore Chennai-based Murugappa Group, with Valli Arunachalam, the older daughter of former executive chairman MV Murugappan, seeking a seat on the board of the holding company, Ambadi Investments Ltd (AIL).

Together, Valli Arunachalam, her sister Vellachi Murugappan and their mother MV Valli Murugappan, hold an 8.15 per cent stake in AIL, which entitles them at least one board seat, Valli Arunachalam told BusinessLine.

Her attempt to sell the 8.15 per cent stake to other family members, according to her father’s wishes, at a ‘fair value’ also did not elicit a positive response, she added.

“Our branch of the family, the MV Murugappan (MVM) branch, is among the largest shareholding group in the holding company. However, the MVM family is the only branch of the tree that is not represented on the Ambadi board, which has been the case for the last two years since my father passed away,” Valli Arunachalam, who is in the US, said in a conversation over the phone.

MV Murugappan, a former chairman of Carborundum Universal, passed away on September 19, 2017. “Before my father passed away, he had held board positions in Ambadi with a similar shareholding, and we see no reason why after his passing we should be denied a board position,” said Valli Arunachalam, adding that she has been corresponding with family elders on the matter since August 13, 2019.

Equal opportunity

About 91 per cent is held by the family, and the remaining by the public. Ambadi Investments is a public unlisted company. Valli Arunachalam is demanding that female heirs of the family be given an equal opportunity in the family business on the same terms as the male heirs.

“So far, they have not given us a reason why I cannot be on the board. In my e-mail communications to the family members on the board, the response was that I was demanding this as a succession right. My response was that my demand was based on the shareholding.

“My sister and I are well educated, we have many years of experience in the industry, and there is no reason why our skills cannot be transferable or applicable to the family business,” she added.

Since there has been no response from AIL’s current board or any of the family members, she is now exploring other alternatives, including legal options.

The Murugapppa Group is a conglomerate with interests in bicycles, sugar, abrasives, fertilisers, financial services and manufacturing of clocks. Group companies include EID Parry India, Tube Investments of India, TI Financial Holdings, Shanthi Gears, Carborundum Universal, Cholamandalam Financial Holdings and Cholamandalam MS General Insurance.

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Published on January 05, 2020
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