Corporate fights are like gambles. If you lose, you lose big. But if you win, profits go through the roof. That is why corporate giants think a lot before going into such fights. And hence, they rarely indulge in them. Well, almost every corporate giant.
Nusli Wadia, the current owner of Wadia Group has a brief history when it comes to such brawls. He has locked horns with the Tatas and the Ambanis, two of the most renowned and richest families in India.
His first corporate fight was with his own father. When Neville Wadia, Nusli’s father, decided to sell his well-known company Bombay Dyeing and settle abroad, Nusli was the first to object. He bought 11% stakes in the company with the help of his mother and Mr. J.R.D Tata. J.R.D Tata and Nusli shared a mentor-mentee bond, which later turned sour.
Wadia vs Ambani: The Polyester Fight
The battle was termed as ‘the ancient regime locking horns with the nouveau riche’. The Wadias were doing business much before the Ambanis, who came in the limelight later. Both had their sights on the polyester business, which was a promising sector in the 1980s.
Dhirubhai Ambani was speculated to use his political influence to turn the tide in his favour, but had something else to his advantage too. While Wadia used dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) as a polyester manufacturing intermediate, Ambani used purified terephthalic acid (PTA), which did a more efficient job. With Wadia losing, one of the most celebrated battles in Indian corporate history came to an end.
Wadia vs Tata: An Unexpected Battle
Ratan Tata and Nusli Wadia share a bond beyond business. Other than being childhood friends, Nusli also acted as a guide for Ratan Tata. Therefore, people couldn’t believe their ears when they heard that Nusli had filed a defamation case on the Tata Group and Ratan Tata.
All of this started when Wadia backed Mistry over Tata to be Tata Group’s chairman. This led to him being removed as Tata Motors’ independent director.
He finally withdrew the case, but only after being told by the Supreme Court of India. By settling, he also let go of Rs. 3000 crore which he would get for his win.
Wadia and Britannia
Another major battle was with Rajan Pillai. Wadia had his eyes on Britannia, but the company made Pillai their chairman, as he had a 38% stake in it. He brought in Danone, a french company.
Later, Wadia and Danone both made Pillai give up his stakes and the company’s control in 1993, accusing him of defrauding the company.
One might think this is where it ends. But, it didn’t. Danone was dragged to the court by Wadia in 2007, on the charges of using the Tiger Brand in other countries without Britannia’s consent. In 2009, Danone finally sold its stakes to Wadia.
Nusli Wadia is also called a corporate samurai for his numerous high stake business battles. He is feisty, adventurous and wise. Now aged 76 years, he still looks up for a battle. With years of experience in his bag, he is one business tycoon to look out for.
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This post is tagged under: corporate battles, fights, Mistry, Ratan Tata, JRD Tata, Nusli Wadia, Britannia, Danone, Pillai, Ambani, Polyester, executive director, board, famous industrialists India, Bombay Dyeing