10 corporate battles to remember
Wadia vs Wadia and Goenka Nusli Wadia (left) has been called a corporate samurai. His battles with Dhirubhai Ambani and Rajan Pillai are legendary. His first corporate brawl was a curious case, given who one of his opponents was: his own father. Neville Wadia had decided, in 1971, to sell Bombay Dyeing Ltd to take-over tycoon R.P. Goenka (right). A young Nusli Wadia refused to accept the deal. He had his back to the wall, yet fought back fiercely by getting the rest of the family, the unions and even J.R.D. Tata to thwart the deal, showing early signs of a rare ability to lobby and win allies in a tough battle. This is one of the few instances when Goenka lost a takeover battle. HP Nanda vs Swraj Paul In the early 1980s, with the tacit support of the then Congress government, Swraj Paul (right), a non-resident Indian, launched an aggressive takeover bid for Escorts Ltd. The latter’s promoter H.P. Nanda (left) put up a fight, but faced a backlash from the government that asked financial institutions with a stake in Escorts to support Paul, and launched a series of tax investigations. Nanda hung on, and in 1984, the courts ruled in his favour. ITC vs BAT In 1996, British American Tobacco Industries Plc (BAT), the single largest shareholder in ITC Ltd, and led by Martin Broughton (right), made a play for control of the Indian company. But ITC, under K.L. Chugh (left), was able to convince the Indian government the fight was between a strong, well-managed and board-run Indian company and a predatory multinational. Government-owned institutions with a stake in ITC helped avert the threat. The Birlas vs Lodha Priyamvada Birla(left), widow of M.P. Birla, died childless in July 2004, leaving all her assets, valued at Rs3,000-5,000 crore, to Rajendra Singh Lodha (right), the MP Birla group’s auditor. When the Birla family came to know about her will, they opposed it, saying she could not have left her assets to an outsider. The Birlas...
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