$11-b Hinduja fortune pits patriarch vs 3 brothers

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 24, 2020

A file photo of Hinduja brothers.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Eldest brother Srichand wants to scrap 2014 agreement, other three oppose

A family feud between the Hinduja brothers for control of the $11-billion fortune threatens to divide the 106 year-old business empire down the middle.

Srichand Parmanand Hinduja, the 84-year old patriarch and the eldest of the four brothers, along with his younger daughter Vinoo, has filed a plea in the the High Court in England challenging the legal validity of a family agreement chalked out on July 2, 2014.

According to the agreement, the assets will not be divided and the assets held in any single brother’s name belong to all four brothers. The 6-year old deal also stated that each brother will appoint the others as their executors. The other three brothers of the Hinduja family — GP Hinduja (80), PP Hinduja (75) and AP Hinduja (69) — want to stick to the 2014 agreement.

But Srichand and his daughter Vinoo want the letter declared null and void on grounds that it does not reflect his wishes and therefore the family’s assets should be separated. According to a source close to the development, the feud between the brothers has been brewing over the last few months.

“It started with a litigation being filed by Vinoo against her uncles for taking control of Hinduja Bank in Switzerland. Vinoo claims the bank is in her father’s name. There is also a dispute over a property in Jersey,”said the source.

The three brothers who want the 2014 agreement to be upheld blamed Vinoo for driving a wedge between them and the eldest brother.

“SP Hinduja’s health has been deteriorating for a number of years suffering from Lewy Body disease, which is a form of dementia. Vinoo, his younger daughter, acting as his litigation friend, is bringing these proceedings on his behalf,” the three brothers said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

“It is very unfortunate that these proceedings are taking place as they go against our founder’s and family’s values and principles that have stood for many decades, especially, ‘everything belongs to everyone and nothing belongs to anyone’,” they added.

The founder of Hinduja Group, Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja started the family business from the fabled town of Shikarpur in Sindh district by establishing trade links between India and Persia. In 1914, he travelled to the trade and financial capital, Bombay and learnt the ropes of business. In 1919, the business journey entered the international arena and was headquartered in Iran till 1979. It then moved to Europe.

Seizing opportunities in a globalised world, the four brothers implemented a diversified growth strategy and transformed the Group into an international conglomerate with a footprint across 38 countries. Srichand conceived the vision of IndusInd Bank — the first of the new-generation private banks in India.

Gopichand, who joined the family business in Mumbai in 1959, is the architect of transforming the Group’s Indo-Middle East trading operation into a multi-billion dollar transnational conglomerate. A significant business move came when the Group acquired Gulf Oil in 1984, closely followed by the acquisition of the then struggling Indian automotive manufacturer, Ashok Leyland in 1987, which was then the first major NRI investment in India. Based out of Monaco, Prakash Hinduja leads the Group’s business in Europe.

The youngest of four brother, Ashok Hinduja joined the family's expanding business at a young age and looks of businesses in India. He heads Nxt Digital, the media and entertainment vertical, runs 1040 MW thermal power plant and Hinduja Global Solutions, one of the leading BPO Company with global footprint. Recently, the group has been toying with the idea of venturing into the aviation business with plans to bid for Air India and Jet Airways. “We would also stress that this litigation will not have any impact on our global businesses, which will continue to function as they have been,” the three brothers said.

Published on June 24, 2020

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