Murugappa scion Valli Arunachalam has said that it would be difficult for her or her sister to remain invested in the Murugappa family “if no solutions are forthcoming to the issues at hand”.
The daughter of former Murugappa patriarch, The Late M V Murugappan, has been waging a lone battle against seven other branches of the Murugappa family for a position on the all-male board of Ambadi Investments Limited (AIL), the holding company of the Murugappa Group.
Valli says she began demanding for a position on the board only after the other male members of the family did not respond to her request to buy out their stake in the company in keeping with her late father’s wishes.
“Our father would have wanted us to first offer our shares to the family, which we have done. Although the family has been aware of our intention for over a year now, they have made no attempts to initiate the process,” said Valli, speaking to CNBC-TV18.com from New York City.
Valli added that while her family continued to make requests to the seven other branches of the Murugappa family, their requests fell on deaf ears. “In January 2019, they told us that they did not have the money, and that we should keep the shares and collect dividend,” she said, “We have been writing to Mr. M V Subbiah (present-day Murugappa patriarch), the male members of the family, and the board members of AIL. Till date, we have received no satisfactory answers.”
With communication between Valli Arunachalam and the seven other branches of the Murugappa family suspended since October 2019, the first female Murugappa descendant with no male sibling is now taking the fight to the other families, seeking a place on AIL’s all-male board for herself or her sister. “To my understanding, the articles of association of Ambadi do not discriminate based on gender,” she said.
Valli, however, isn’t willing to commit on whether she takes the legal route, just yet. “All that my mother, sister and I are trying to do is effect to my father’s will, exactly as he wished,” she said, “It was his wish that we settle the matter within the family, and that is what we have been tirelessly working towards for the past two years.”
However, Valli acknowledges that continuing to settle things amicably may remain difficult with no promise of an outcome. “It is difficult to say we will remain invested in the family if no solutions are forthcoming to the issues at hand,” she said.
At present, only male members of the Murugappa family have joined the business and occupy a place on the board of AIL. Should Valli Arunachalam decide to go to court to secure a place on the board, legal experts say her claim will hold overwhelming credibility.
“Being the eldest daughter of M V Murugappan’s family, Valli is the natural heir or Karta as per the Hindu Succession Act,” said legal expert K Satish Kumar, “Legally, she has the right to represent the family in Ambadi Investments Limited.” Kumar added: “There are no legal clauses in the Articles of Association that can prevent Valli from securing a place for herself on the board.”