Murugappa Group to Discuss Inducting Valli Arunachalam to Board

Will the promoters of Murugappa Group induct a woman for the first time on the board of family holding company?

2 min read

Will the promoter family of Rs 38,105-crore industrial conglomerate Murugappa Group induct a woman for the first time on the board of family holding company Ambadi Investments Ltd?

The answer will be known on 21 September 2020 when the company's annual general meeting (AGM) will be held through videoconference. As per the notice calling the AGM, the general body as a special business will consider the appointment of Valli Arunachalam as a board member.

The notice said Valli had sent a notice on 5 August 2020 along with a deposit of Rs 100,000 to propose her candidature for Director's post.

Valli Arunachalam is the daughter of the late MV Murugappan – who was the grandson of Murugappa Group founder Dewan Bahadur AM Murugappa Chettiar. MV Murugappan, who died in 2017, left the 8.15% stake he held in Ambadi Investments to his wife and his two daughters. Ambadi Investments is the holding company of the Rs 38,000-crore family-run conglomerate.

Early this year, the US-based Valli, the daughter of late MV Murugappan, had alleged that the group promoters have gender bias against women getting into the family business and hence she and her sister were denied a board seat in Ambadi Investments after their father's death in 2017.

She had laid two demands to the other branches of the Murugappa group family -- give a board seat to her or her sister Vellachi Murugappan or buy her family's 8.15% stake in Ambadi Investments at a fair value.

Valli had said her family also holds stakes in the group's listed companies. She had said that after her father's demise, her family did not have board representation in Ambadi Investments.

Murugappan was on Ambadi Investments’ board from 1969 until sometime in 2016, when he resigned due to health reasons. Interestingly, the unwritten ‘male-only’ rule in the Ambadi Investments’ board room was there for a long time, including the time when Valli’s father Murugappan was alive.

Responding to the issue, she had told IANS earlier: “My father and I never discussed this. However, I have checked with my mother and she has confirmed that my father often expressed his displeasure over the exclusion of women from the management of the family business, albeit in the face of the resistance of other family members.

"There cannot be any gender discrimination for board berth. Similarly, there cannot be written or any unwritten rules whereby daughters, daughters-in-law, and sons-in-law can be denied board berth and the board membership is reserved only for the male heirs," D Varadarajan, a Supreme Court advocate specialising in company/competition/insurance laws, had told IANS.

Varadarajan said that Arunachalam should offer her candidature for an appointment at the ensuing AGM by following the provisions of company law.

(This article has been republished in arrangement with IANS)

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