Kolkata: Jute baron Arun Kumar Bajoria’s daughters have put five of their 10 jute mills on the block, according to brokers familiar with the proposed sale.
The five mills put together account for about 10% of the total jute production in the country, according to Sanjay Kajaria, president of Indian Jute Mills Association, an industry lobby.
Three of the mills being sold are in Andhra Pradesh. The other two—Waverly and Gondalpara— are in West Bengal.
“We are not sure, but Mangalpur, too, could eventually be sold off,” said a broker, who has been seeking potential buyers. “These are the smaller mills in the group. We don’t know what the family wants to do with the big ones—Hooghly and Hukumchand.” Mangalpur is a small mill near Raniganj in West Bengal.
Bajoria, who built his jute business through a raft of acquisitions, died on 28 March leaving behind an estate valued at thousands of crores of rupees. It includes real estate across the country, investment in shares of listed firms and 10 jute mills.
These are now being managed by his four daughters.
When contacted on phone at Bajoria’s home in Kolkata, one of his daughters, while declining to give her name, said, “We appreciate your gesture, but do not wish to comment on the news.”
P.L. Agarwal, a senior lawyer with law firm Khaitan and Co., who had advised Bajoria’s daughters on management of the estate, said, “I am not authorized to comment on this matter. They had consulted me earlier on, but I’m not advising them anymore.”
Bajoria had himself initiated discussions for sale of the three mills in Andhra Pradesh a year ago.
“We had almost reached a deal but couldn’t close it because Arunbabu wasn’t keeping well,” said Jagdish Sarda, a businessman who runs two mills in Andhra Pradesh. “But now, I’m not sure I want to buy more mills.”
Asked about the proposed sale of Bajoria’s mills, jute association’s Kajaria said, “The three Andhra mills have been on the block for some time, but I haven’t heard about the two others.” Kajaria, who had been close to Bajoria, acquired India Jute Mills from him last year. The 10 mills that the Bajorias now own together produce around 600 tonnes of jute a day.
Collectively, these mills account for a quarter of the total jute production in the country.
Hukumchand was acquired from the KK Birla group in the mid-1980s and Hooghly owns large tracts of land as well as shares of other companies.
K.K Birla is chairman of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint