Kolkata: Harsh Vardhan Lodha has been appointed chairman of Birla Ericsson Optical Ltd, according to a filing made by the company with the stock exchanges.
Birla Ericsson is the first listed company of the MP Birla Group that has appointed Lodha chairman. Most companies that are part of the group have functioned without a chairman since October when Harsh Vardhan Lodha’s father R.S. Lodha died.
R.S. Lodha and his family had laid claim to the MP Birla Group after Priyamvada Birla died childless leaving her estate to R.S. Lodha and his younger son Harsh Vardhan Lodha. Some members of the Birla family had challenged the validity of Priyamvada Birla’s will and the Lodha family’s claim to the estate and some of these cases are still being heard in various courts.
K.K. Birla, the late chairperson of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint, was a patriarch of the extended Birla family. Soon after R.S. Lodha’s death, Rameshwara Jute Mills Ltd, which owns shares in MP Birla Group companies, moved the Calcutta high court and the Company Law Board (CLB) seeking removal of the Lodha family-controlled boards of at least three key companies —group flagship Birla Corp. Ltd, Vindhya Telelinks Ltd and Universal Cables Ltd.
Lodha couldn’t take over as chairman of the group immediately after his father’s death because of these cases, which are currently being heard by the CLB. The final hearing of the cases are expected to start later this month.
Rameshwara Jute Mills has its headquarters at Birla Buildings in Kolkata, and is currently controlled by the BK Birla Group.
Lodha, who is a director on the board of all MP Birla Group companies, declined comment on his appointment as chairman of Birla Ericsson.
An official at the MP Birla Group revealed he might have already taken over as chairman of some of the group’s unlisted firms. “The boards of all companies in the group have unanimously agreed to make him the next chairman,” added this person, speaking on condition of anonymity. K.K. Birla’s daughter Nandini Nopany is on the board of Birla Corp.
In her will, Priyamvada Birla had said Lodha, who is a chartered accountant, would take control of the MP Birla Group when his father turned 65. At the time of his death in October, R.S. Lodha was 66.