Significantly, the board of directors of all the operating companies of MP Birla group “strongly recommended against” induction of nominees of The Punjab Produce & Trading Co.
The Lodhas have scored a major win at the annual general meetings (AGMs) of the three cable manufacturing companies of the MP Birla group — Birla Cable, Universal Cables and Vindhya Telelinks — as shareholders have voted against the induction of nominees of The Punjab Produce & Trading Co on the companies’ boards of directors.
Harsh V Lodha, who was seeking reappointment as a director of Birla Cable, received 83.11% of the valid votes cast in his favour.
In contrast, Satish Pradhan, who was the nominee of The Punjab Produce & Trading Co, one of the investment firms of the MP Birla group, as a non-executive non-independent director of Birla Cable in place of Lodha, received only 18.55% shareholders’ votes as around 81.50% of the valid votes cast against his appointment.
Voting results of Birla Cable’s AGM further revealed that, Dhanpat Ram Agarwal, also a nominee of The Punjab Produce & Trading Co, received only 18.55% of votes cast in his favour.
The Punjab Produce & Trading Co had earlier sent notices to the group’s operating companies, Birla Corporation, Birla Cable, Universal Cables and Vindhya Telelinks, proposing board seats for its nominees on the companies’ board of directors. AGMs of the three cable firms were held on September 23. Birla Corporation’s AGM is scheduled on September 29.
Significantly, the board of directors of all the operating companies of MP Birla group “strongly recommended against” induction of nominees of The Punjab Produce & Trading Co, which has ongoing litigations with the companies and entities belonging to the group.
“It’s a landmark victory over years of mischievous acts, and one of the most memorable ones in 17 years of the proxy war being waged against the wishes of the late Priyamvada Birla,” said Lodha’s advocate Debanjan Mandal, partner, Fox & Mandal. “It gives us immense confidence to take on much more,” Mandal added.
Notably, the genesis of the over 17-year-old legal row between the Birlas and the Lodhas over controlling the Birla Estate lies in the contested will of late Priyamvada Devi Birla, which was executed in July 1982 after the purported will allegedly transferred the shares of the MP Birla group, collectively called as the Birla Estate, in favour of Rajendra Singh Lodha.
The legal tussle began after the July, 1982 wills that gave away all the assets to charities but another will of April 18, 1999 gave them to Rajendra Singh Lodha, now being pursued by his son Harsh Vardhan Lodha, and other heirs.