Murugappa heir Valli Arunachalam has sent a legal notice to her family and Murugappa holding company Ambadi Investments Limited (AIL), for AIL’s refusal to grant her or her sister a place on the company’s all-male board and reluctance to buy out their 8.15 percent stake at a “fair price”.
Valli’s father MV Murugappan died in 2017, leaving no male heirs.
Valli said that the family voting against her appointment was the end of the road for an amicable settlement, and described the legal step as “unfortunate.”
She said she had done everything possible for an amicable settlement with the family. However, she said, the family reacted with silence, combativeness, false assurances, and delay tactics. Valli said she no longer had any confidence that her family’s stake in the business will be safeguarded by rest of the family, adding that said the family’s tactics was a “robe to conceal its regressive gender bias.”
She said she had complete faith in the judiciary, and that her efforts would have broader implications with respect to gender equality and social parity.
Last month, Valli’s claim to a board position was put to vote at the annual general meeting (AGM) of AIL. However, 91 percent of the board voted against inducting the fourth-genration Murugappa scion to the board. Valli questioned the logic behind the board’s reluctance to grant her a board position, despite her impressive academic and workplace credentials. She attacked the company’s willingness to let apparently less-deserving male heirs sit at the board even as her family was denied a position.
“It is evident that the family cannot tolerate women in their boardrooms, and they have showcased their considered view in this regard,” Valli had said at that time, hitting out at the gender bias at the highest levels of the Murugappa Group. “It is very unfortunate that the AIL shareholders, the overwhelming majority of whom are also board members, are not able to understand what contributions women can make on the board.”