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

The Economic Times - - Companies - Deepali.Gupta@ times­group.com

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…”

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