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In Bajaj family, business sense over-rules ties

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SummaryThe younger members of the Bajaj family are slowly taking the reins of the group companies with top leadership posts, a move that signals their being given freedom to run independent companies they manage, from financial services to consumer goods makers, with elders members taking a back seat.

The younger members of the Bajaj family are slowly taking the reins of the group companies with top leadership posts, a move that signals their being given freedom to run independent companies they manage, from financial services to consumer goods makers, with elders members taking a back seat.

But the handing over of control to the next generation is not a given in the family. Bajaj family members will have to prove themselves to get into top positions, a tradition followed since the inception of the group in 1926 by late founder Jamnalal Bajaj.

For instance, two scions of the Bajaj family — Sanjiv, son of Bajaj Group patriarch Rahul Bajaj, and Anant, son of Rahul’s cousin Shekhar Bajaj — were elevated to leadership posts, in March 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Sanjiv, 43, a mechanical engineer, was appointed as the MD of Bajaj Holdings and Investment, a company that owns a controlling stake in the group’s financial services business Bajaj Finserve that spans from insurance to non-banking financial services. Sanjiv Bajaj, a postgraduate from the University of Warwick, resigned as executive director of motorbikes maker Bajaj Auto, a company his elder brother Rajiv Bajaj runs independently.

“Sanjiv will now be non-executive director at Bajaj Auto, the flagship of group,” Niraj Bajaj, the youngest of Rahul Bajaj’s cousins, said in an interview with FE.

In keeping with the family tradition, Rajiv Bajaj, after he took over the reins of Bajaj Auto, of which his father Rahul Bajaj is chairman, transformed the company by competing with global rivals with newer, world-class motorcycles with R&D capabilities developed within the company. Today Bajaj Auto, which stopped making scooters, earns 30% of its revenue from overseas and will launch a four-wheeler, an extension of its three-wheeler business.

“We never believe that just because of the surname, our family members can sit as bosses, as board directors or in ivory towers,” Niraj Bajaj, who manages the family finances as chairman of two significant holding companies, Jamnalal Sons and Bachhraj & Co. “A surname doesn’t mean that you are born with wisdom of the world.”

In a related development within the group companies, Anant Bajaj, son of Shekhar Bajaj, the second of the four brothers in the earlier generation, was elevated as the joint MD of Bajaj Electricals, which makes water heaters to electrical switches.

Anant was the executive director of Bajaj Electricals, managing the exports division of the company which contributed less

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