Abhey Oswal’s Widow Rules Out Offensive Against Feuding Son
Son Pankaj claims people with vested interest are propping up mother; Aruna says she isn’t a novice
Mumbai: In the mother-son tangle of who will inherit Abhey Oswal’s group, his widow Aruna says she will not go on the offensive against son Pankaj, who claims some people with vested interest are propping up his mother with little knowledge in managing business to keep him away.
“So far, we have only been answering questions from the media; there is nothing else,” said Aruna Oswal to ET, referring to reports that Pankaj Oswal was considering legal action.
Stressing that she is more than equipped to handle business responsibilities, Aruna Oswal said: “I have been managing the entertainment company (which made the movie Pinjar) and the trust of the group, so it is not that I haven’t seen business before.”
Business tycoon Abhey Oswal died on March 29 after a cardiac arrest while on a trip to Russia. Soon after, Oswal Greentech and Oswal Agro Mills, both listed real estate companies, appointed Aruna Oswal as the chairperson. Pankaj Oswal said the ownership changes were commenced barely three days after his father’s death. He had not succeeded his father at the companies “due to the doings of people with vested interests” who, he claimed, wanted to put in place a person who won’t be able to catch them for siphoning off money.
“They helped appoint my mother, mind you (at her house) without any thorough process as per the guidelines of (market regulator) Sebi. My mother depends solely on these people,” he said.
Anil Bhalla, chief executive and managing director of both companies, said as the largest shareholder of the company, Aruna Oswal was an undisputed chairperson. Moreover, Abhey Oswal had left her nomination on the companies for such a situation, he said.
While her appointment has been through a vote, Pankaj Oswal said that wasn’t the right thing to do in this case. “Since my own Oswal family group holdings are in the majority or near it in both companies, voting is perhaps not the most fair or even transparent route at a time of internal family angst. We have to look at other means, available particularly to protect minority, nonfamily shareholders.”
Other members of the family include Shael Oswal — who Pankaj says is a musician, but the other side says practices business — and Shalu Jindal, wife of industrialist Naveen Jindal. Shael Oswal and potential family heir Shalu Jindal stand with their mother. Pankaj Oswal said he was “more than happy to be operationally in charge even while she (his mother) holds a (chairperson) position. But strangely, she clearly stated that she does not want me either operating the business or even getting my fair portion of inheritance from my father’s personal estate”.
Oswal Agro registered an FIR last week after Pankaj Oswal allegedly broke into the office, roughed up office staff and carried away bank books and financial statements. Bhalla said this was mostly caught on camera and that the footage was handed over to the police. He said there was no intention to talk further to the police or escalate the matter. “We won’t entangle ourselves in unnecessary things. The law will take its course.”
According to a person on Aruna Oswal’s side, Pankaj Oswal has been alienated from the family for some years now. He is awaiting trial in a case involving hundreds of millions of dollars related to a fertiliser company he had founded in Australia, Burrup Fertilisers. Refuting the charge that he siphoned off funds, Pankaj Oswal said: “We are fighting for damages which are in the tune of $1.5 billion as the bank undersold our shares. There are claims and counter claims. Trials are starting in May…”