M A M Ramaswami out of Chettinad Cements Board

Written by PTI | Chennai | Updated: Aug 28 2014, 05:26am hrs
The internal family power struggle for control of Chettinad Group of Companies came to a head today with its founder Chairman and noted industrialist M A M Ramaswami being eased out of its Board and divested of his executive powers after being appointed Chairman Emeritus.

Shareholders of Chettinad Cement Corporation at its Annual General Body meeting here resolved not to renew 82-year-old Ramaswami's appointment as one of the Directors on its Board. The Chettinad group, one of the prominent industrial houses in South India with diverse interests, is stated to be a Rs 4,000 crore business empire.

The resolution passed at the meeting read "Dr M A M Ramaswami, Director, who retires by rotation pursuant to Section 152 of Companies Act 2013, be and is hereby not reappointed as Director of the Company".

The Managing Director of Chettinad Cement Corporation M A M R Muthiah, foster son of the business tycoon, in a statement released to the press after the AGM, said a decision had been taken there that Ramaswami would be made Chairman Emeritus.

"At the momentous occasion when the company is entering its sixth decade of operations, the Managing Director (M A M R Muthiah) informed the members that it is time to acknowledge the contribution of M A M Ramaswami to the company," it said.

"In acknowledgement of his contribution at the helm of the company's operation till 1999, the Managing Director announced that Dr M A M Ramaswami would be appointed as Chairman-Emeritus for life", the release said.

Ramaswami, a former MP, was not present at the AGM as he is undergoing treatment in a hospital for chest pain.

In a tactical move, the AGM did not appoint a new Chairman to succeed Ramaswami and Muthaiah will continue as Managing Director.

Speculations were rife that Muthaiah would be elected as Chairman at today's meeting.

The swift developments came a day after CBI arrested M Manu Neethi Cholan, Registrar of Companies, Chennai, for allegedly demanding and accepting Rs 10 lakh as illegal gratification from Ramaswami to declare null and void the resolutions at today's meeting where the rival group within the Chettinad Group management was planning to take control over the companies.

CBI had also seized cash and the vehicle in which he was travelling. The agency, after booking Ramaswami on bribery allegations chose not to arrest him considering his age.

"MAM's (Ramaswami's) diverse interests are well known and his love for racing and horses is legendary. He has followed the family tradition and contributed to public causes and temple renovation," the statement said.

With shareholders rejecting Ramaswami's reappointment as Director at the AGM, the post of Chairman, Chettinad Cement Corporation would become vacant and all executive powers would be vested with the Managing Director, a shareholder who did not want to be named, said.

Earlier in the day, Ramaswami withdrew two complaints of life threats he had recently filed with police.

Counsel representing him withdrew the complaints filed in two police stations at ForeShore Estate and Thiruvanmiyur.

Ramaswami also had a brief political stint as he became Member of Parliament, from Janata Dal (Secular), representing Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha. He also served as Pro-Chancellor for Annamalai University, which was later taken over by Tamil Nadu government following alleged "financial irregularities".

On the performance of the company, the statement said the Chettinad Cement Corporations had done well during 2013-14 fiscal and announced a dividend of 50 per cent.

"In order to augment its capacity,it has recently acquired controlling interest in Anjani Portland Cement Ltd., Andhra Pradesh with a capacity of 0.8 million tonnes per annum", it said.