While fighting his father, an Indian billionaire will quit his nearly 100-year old conglomerate

While fighting his father, an Indian billionaire will quit his nearly 100-year old conglomerate
  • Raymond's Gautam Singhania will step down as Chairman from group companies
  • Family control over the group's management will end with Singhania's exit
  • Singhania and his father are in a fight over a disputed apartment

India's Raymond Group, which owns a slew of businesses from ready-made garments and toiletries to engineering tools and chartered planes, is set to be free from the clutches of a family that has run it for the conglomerate's entire history.

Gautam Singhania revealed that he will step down as Chairman from all group companies, in an interview to the Economic Times (ET), including the flagship company Raymond that is known for suits.

The scion of the Singhania family known for lavish life and flamboyant style, Singhania, will make way for professionals to run the group companies. “Tomorrow morning if I die, god forbid, there are identified people who will take charge of everything. Raymond can run independently and competitively. My children are very young. I have a responsibility to my wife and children, to my employees and shareholders, my banks, institutions and customers," the 53-year-old told the newspaper.

It's an unusual move in India, which has the most number of family-owned businesses, only behind the United States and China, according to a Credit Suisse report in 2017.

However, the move is significant given Gautam's property dispute with his father Vijaypat Singhania.

Vijaypat claims the he should get an apartment in the Singhania family-owned JK House under a 2007 agreement. However, Gautam took the decision to the Raymond board to deny his father's claim as the price agreed upon in 2007 was too low. The elder Singhania is reportedly planning a legal salvo while working on a book that tells his side of the story.

"I would advise parents everywhere not to make the mistake of giving away all your savings to your children during your lifetime," Vijaypat said in an interview last week.

Meanwhile, Gautam has offered to have a dialogue with his father after a failed appeal to the court to stop the release of the book.

Long history

Raymond started in 1925 as a small wooden mill in Thane in the outskirts of Mumbai, according to the company website. It grew multi-fold over the next couple of decades but only as a player in textile and related products.

It was in 1950 that the group started engineering files. Kama Sutra condoms were born in 1991, and the chartered planes took off in 1996.

Gautam Singhania took over the reins in 2000, and as of 2018, the company was exporting its products to 55 countries and has manufacturing units outside India.

However, the escalating feud between the father and son has left a blot on a billion-dollar empire.