In a new twist to the continuing battle between Rahul Bajaj and his brother Shishir over the control of Bajaj Hindusthan, Rahul Bajaj, chairman, Bajaj Auto, said he wants to buy out the stake held by Basant Kumar Birla and Kumar Mangalam Birla in Bachhraj and Co. Pvt. Ltd.
Bachhraj is a holding company controlled by the Bajaj family and, in turn, holds 24.53% in sugar major Bajaj Hindusthan.
“We have offered to buy out the balance 11% stake held by the Birlas in Bachhraj & Co. and they have agreed to this as well. They asked us to get Kushagra’s assent because he is related to them. But Kushagra says he is not on speaking terms with the Birlas. This is why we are not able to buy out the minority shareholders and get a cleaner holding structure to transfer the shares in Bajaj Hindusthan to Shishir,” said Rahul Bajaj.
Kushagra Bajaj, son of Shishir Bajaj, is married to Vasvadatta, the younger sister of Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman, Aditya Birla Group. And B.K. Birla is her grandfather. “Kushagra not being on speaking terms with the family is utter rubbish. The Aditya Birla Group holds 6.5% stake in Bachhraj which is to be given to Vasvadatta, so the question of sale does not arise,” said a spokesperson for the Aditya Birla Group.
According to Rahul Bajaj, the acquisition of shares of other members of the extended Birla family in Bachhraj and Co. was done over a year ago.
Rahul Bajaj had proposed to set up a special purpose vehicle to which the shares in the sugar major would be transferred, as reported by Mint on 13 March. This company would have the same shareholding pattern as Bachhraj. This would give Shishir Bajaj and his family, to whom the Bajaj family’s stake in Bachhraj is to be transferred in keeping with an earlier settlement, a beneficial interest of only 19.13% of the sugar company. Buying out the remaining stake held by the Birlas would increase the effective ownership of Shishir Bajaj and his family in the company to 21.83%.
Rahul Bajaj said he had so far not approached the Pittie family, the other minority shareholder in the company, with a similar proposal.
Mint had on 13 March reported a spokesperson for Kushagra Bajaj saying that the new holding company was not part of the original settlement agreed to by the family before the Company Law Board.
The dispute between Rahul Bajaj and Shishir Bajaj dates back to 2002 and involves the unravelling of complex cross-holdings within the Bajaj group.