They were known as the “fab four.” Srichand, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok. The four brothers from being brothers in arms, taking on the corporate world, not just in India but also in UK, are today brothers at war.
Somehow, this is probably the quality of money – it never allows relations to remain intact, causing fissures which get too deep to be filled. The more the money, more is the greed.
This story of waring brothers, fighting over money is heard so often; its almost like if there are siblings, there is bound to be a fallout. The Ambani brothers take the helm and their fight is like the ‘mother of all’ and in many ways, a lesson for all – a lesson about the need to have a proper will in place.
Recently another brothers in news were Singh brothers – Shivinder and Malvinder of Fortis and earlier, Ranbaxy fame. Their fight too has been very ugly and the brothers are now cooling their heels in jail for fraud. Infact their father, Parvinder Singh who inherited Ranbaxy, sparred out in the open with his father, Bhai Mohan Singh, the founder of Ranbaxy.
The feuding between the generations of Kirloskar brothers has left the company in splits, literally. It was first in 2000 when Vijay Kirloskar moved out of the group with Kirloskar Electrical while his brothers got Kirloskar Oil Engine Engines, Kirloskar Brothers, Kirloskar Pneumaics and related subsidiaries. Then the next generation also fought and there was a restructuring and split in 2008 between Sanjay, Atul and Rahul. And once again in Dec 2018, these three took their fight to NCLT and SEBI, trading charges of mismanagement, oppression and even insider trading.
Another famous fight was that between the Bajaj brothers –Rahul and Shishir; their three cousins, Madhur, Shekhar and Niraj – at one time all five were close and were considered to be five brothers. Then the dispute arose between Shishir on one side, and Rahul, Niraj, Shekhar, and Madhur on the other. It spilled over to the next generation too, with Kushagra, son Shishir and brother-in-law of Kumaramangalam Birla entering the fray. They also made up and chose not to air any more dirty linen in the public a few years ago.
The ugly battle between father and son – Raunaq Singh and Omkar Singh of Apollo Tyres and then between Omkar and his brother, Narinder is a part of many case studies.
There were also the Mirchandani brothers fighting it out at Mirc Electronics or Onida TV company, which ultimately ended the company. The Rai family, which owns Group Usha also had a long and ugly fight over a property worth millions.
The saga of family feud goes on but what we are seeing in today’s generation is that splits and restructurings are happening much ahead of time, to avoid an Ambani or Bajaj like situation. Many have learnt from the follies of others and to a large extent, the fights are not spilling over. There might be infighting but as long as it remains inside and gets resolved amicably, the very fabric of family-run businesses in India will remain intact.
The Hinduja brothers have stayed united till now and one hopes that instead of becoming an ugly, public squabble, they resolve it and bury the hatchet!