Behind the scenes of the $14bn Hinduja family feud involving Britain’s richest

Nov 16, 2022

By: BI India Bureau

Splitting a $14-billion empire

After presenting a united front for over 100 years, the Hinduja group is on the verge of splitting its $14-billion empire, setting aside a 2014 pact. The deadline for splitting the assets has reportedly been set as the end of November, as per a London court order.

Credit: BCCL

The Hinduja group: A 108-year-legacy

Founded in 1914, by Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja, the Hinduja group started their business operations with merchant banking and trade. It entered the international arena soon after in 1919, after opening their headquarters in Iran.

Credit: Hindujagroup/Parmanand

Britain’s wealthiest family

After the 1979 Iran revolution, the group shifted its headquarters to London. It also diversified into automotive, media and entertainment, healthcare, real estate, information technology, and other industries. In 2017, Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja were named Britain’s wealthiest billionaires - a position they still maintain with a net worth of £28.472bn.

Credit: Hindujagroup/Gopichand-Hinduja

Their businesses

Now, the auto-to-oil group has a range of businesses including interests in IndusInd Bank, Ashok Leyland, Gulf Oil International, P D Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Hinduja Healthcare, and KPB Hinduja College of Commerce, among others.

Credit: Hindujagroup/Ashok-Hinduja

Srichand Hinduja, the patriarch

After the demise of Parmanand Hinduja in 1971, his four sons took joint control of the business. The eldest son, Srichand and the second eldest son, Gopichand looked after the group’s businesses from London, as co-chairmen. Prakash Hinduja acts as the chairman of Hinduja group in Europe, and has been based out of Monaco, since 2008. The youngest son, Ashok Hinduja, oversees operations in India, and the Hinduja Foundation.

Credit: Hindujagroup/Srichand-Hinduja

The dispute

Cracks first started to appear in the family after Srichand Hinduja’s health started declining due to the early onset of dementia. In spite of a truce agreed by the family, their troubles landed them in London court. In 2019, Srichand Hinduja challenged the legality of the 2014 pact surrounding the succession of the conglomerate. The other was filed by Gopichand Hinduja, in the Court of Protection, challenging the ‘legitimacy of a lasting power of attorney’ granted to Srichand Hinduja’s wife and later, daughters.

Credit: Pexels

The pact at the centre of the disagreement

The 2014 pact, that stands at the centre of the disagreement, states “everything belongs to everyone, and nothing belongs to anyone”. It was signed by all the four brothers, Srichand, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok.

Credit: Pexels

Accusations by Srichand's brothers

Srichand Hinduja’s brothers have accused that his daughters - Shanu and Veenu - were grabbing power, using funds for their personal use, litigations, and their children. As per reports, in 2021, the daughters admitted to using Srichand Hinduja’s funds for personal use - post which, their lawyer Clifford Chance, withdrew from representing them.

Credit: BCCL

‘Financially squeezed’ allege Srichand’s daughters

On the other side, Srichand Hinduja’s daughters alleged their interests were being sidelined by their uncles and they were being “financially squeezed” from the family wealth. They alleged that they were deprived of income or funding from 2014, until it dried up completely in 2018, forcing them to use their father’s personal funds. Gopichand Hinduja denied this allegation.

Credit: Pexels

The current status

According to Justice Hayden’s August ruling–which became public in November after reporting restrictions were lifted–the family told the court to end "all disputes existing between them in all jurisdictions”, including the 2019 case over the family assets. However, while the matter regarding the health and welfare of Srichand has been settled, the division of assets is yet to be decided. There are multiple cross-holdings among Srichand’s brothers and children, making it difficult to segregate ownerships.

Credit: Pexels

Statements by the involved parties

Shanu and Veenu said in a statement, “While we are pleased that the dispute surrounding the health and welfare of our father has been resolved, a final settlement with respect to the broader disputes still needs to be reached.” Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Hinduja brothers, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok, said, “The Hinduja family matter regarding the health and welfare of SP (Srichand) has already been resolved amicably between all parties.”

Credit: Instagram/shanu_hinduja

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