The brothers agreed to halt reams of litigation across Europe, ending, for now, a feud that was tearing the once tightly knit British-Indian group apart. With accusations of everything from a funding squeeze to misappropriated cash, the fight had drawn excoriating criticism from a London judge, especially over the care of the family patriarch, Srichand Hinduja — throwing open the possibility of a breakup of the ownership structures behind the century-old conglomerate.
SP, as the 86-year-old is known, suffers from dementia, and the court was told that the family’s dispute went so deep that he was days away from being transferred to a government-run NHS hospital.
At the heart of the battle was a pact signed by the four brothers in 2014 that “everything belongs to everyone and nothing belongs to anyone”. The three other brothers had claimed that the letter governed the succession planning for the century-old conglomerate, a declaration that was challenged by Srichand’s descendants, who claimed that his branch of the family was being sidelined in the group.
That battle ended after lawyers for Gopichand Hinduja said in June that the family had agreed to effectively tear up the arrangement.
With the end of the pact, however, the stage may now be set for the break up of the conglomerate. With dozens of companies, the Hinduja Group employs more than 150,000 people in 38 countries in truck-making, banking, chemicals, power, media and healthcare. Its firms include Ashok Leyland and IndusInd Bank. With a net worth of about $14 billion that would make the family the wealthiest in the UK, the brothers had always presented a united front.
But the family has been revealed to be deeply divided after court proceedings spilled into the open the internecine spat that pit brother Sri-chand’s side of the family, led by his daughter Vinoo, against the rest. London appeal judges on Friday lifted reporting restrictions on court hearings centered around Srichand’s health and the care he was receiving. Judge Anthony Hayden said he’d been troubled by the extent to which SP had been marginalised by the family.
This is a “war and peace” story, Gopichand’s lawyer said at the end of the hearing. “The Hinduja family matter regarding the health and welfare of SP has already been resolved amicably between all parties,” a spokesperson for Gopichand Hinduja said.