Murugappa heir hopeful of breaking group's gender bias at AIL AGM

Source :IANS
Last Updated: Mon, Sep 14th, 2020, 17:49:51hrs
Murugappa

Chennai: One of the female heirs of the industrial conglomerate, the Rs 38,105 crore Murugappa group, Valli Arunachalam is hopeful of being voted as a Director in the family's holding company Ambadi Investments Ltd (AIL).

Following the provisions of section 160 of the Companies Act, Arunachalam has offered her candidature for the appointment as a Director in Ambadi Investments.

As per the notice calling the annual general meeting (AGM) of Ambadi Investments, Arunachalam had sent a notice on August 5, 2020 along with a deposit of Rs 1,00,000 proposing her candidature for the Director's post.

The AGM will be held on September 21, 2020 through video conferencing.

Ambadi Investments owned by the Murugappa Group promoter family is the ultimate holding company of the group.

Asked specifically whether the Murugappa family members have agreed to offer her a board seat in Ambadi Investments, Arunachalam told IANS: "My application for the board seat will be voted on September 21st AGM."

Arunachalam said: "I am hopeful that I will get a board seat."

She also denied having filed a court case in the matter.

Early this year, the US-based Arunachalam, the daughter of late M. V.Murugappan, had alleged that the group promoters have a gender bias against women getting into the family business and hence she and her sister were denied a board berth in Ambadi Investments after their father's death in 2017.

Arunachalam had laid two proposals before the other branches of the Murugappa group family -- give a board berth to her or her sister Vellachi Murugappan, or buy her family's 8.15 per cent stake in Ambadi Investments at a fair value.

Arunachalam had said her family also holds stakes in the group's listed companies.

She had said that after her father's demise, her family did not have a board representation in Ambadi Investments.

Murugappan was on Ambadi Investments' board from 1969 until sometime in 2016, when he resigned due to health reasons.

Interestingly, the unwritten 'male only' rule in the Ambadi Investments' boardroom was there for a long time, including the time when Arunachalam's father Murugappan was alive.

Responding to the issue, she had told IANS earlier: "My father and I never discussed this. However, I have checked with my mother and she has confirmed that my father often expressed his displeasure over the exclusion of women from the management of the family business, albeit in the face of resistance from other family members.

"There cannot be any gender discrimination for board berth. Similarly, there cannot be written or any unwritten rules whereby daughters, daughters-in-law, and sons-in-law can be denied board berth and the board membership is reserved only for the male heirs," D. Varadarajan, a Supreme Court advocate specialising in company/competition/insurance laws, had told IANS.

Varadarajan had earlier said that Arunachalam should offer her candidature for appointment at the ensuing AGM by following the provisions of the company law.

Perhaps that is what Arunachalam has done under section 160 of the Companies Act now.