June 25: The battle for control of assets in the Hinduja family has come out in the open, with ailing group patriarch S P Hinduja launching legal action against his brothers Gopichand (80), Prakash (75), and Ashok (69).
A British high court has appointed Vinoo Hinduja, daughter of S P Hinduja (84), to act on his behalf, Business Standard reported.
The three brothers are seeking control of Switzerland-based Hinduja Bank and have relied on a 2014 letter signed by all of them that said the assets of the group were owned by them and each would appoint the others as their executors. The bank’s ownership is currently in the name of London-based S P Hinduja.
According to the court documents, he is unable to perform his duty due to ill health. As S P lacks capacity, the court said, Vinoo Hinduja would act on his behalf – which was opposed by the other brothers. Hinduja Bank has Shanu Hinduja, daughter of S P, as chairperson, and her son Karam was appointed CEO just last week.
The brothers and their children run different companies across the world, with interests in banking (IndusInd Bank), automobiles (Ashok Leyland), business process outsourcing, chemicals, electricity generation, and media. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index has estimated the combined wealth of the Hinduja brothers at $11.2 billion.
The British court’s judgment also made references to the family’s other legal proceedings, including confidential proceedings in Jersey, and said the other three brothers were prevented from seeing their eldest brother for some time.
Reacting to the British court’s verdict, a statement by the three Hinduja brothers called it a “private affair” and said the litigation would not have any impact on the group’s global businesses. “It will be apparent from the judgment of the High Court in England, that S P Hinduja’s health has been deteriorating for a number of years suffering from Lewy Body disease, which is a form of dementia. Vinoo, his younger daughter, acting as his litigation friend is bringing these proceedings on his behalf,” the statement said.