At the AGM, 91% shareholders vote against inducting a woman in Murugappa Group board
Valli, her sister Vellachi Murugappan and their mother M.V. Valli Murugappan, collectively hold 8.15% stake in Ambadi Investments, the group’s holding company
New Delhi/Bengaluru: A family battle may be brewing at the 120-year-old Murugappa Group with Valli Arunachalam, the daughter of the conglomerate’s executive chairman late MV Murugappan, taking on the male members on the board of Ambadi Investments Limited (AIL), the group’s holding company. Arunachalam on Tuesday said she was ready to take the battle to courts after her bid for a seat on the male-only board of AIL was rejected by other family members at the company’s annual general meeting a day earlier.
“It is evident that the family cannot tolerate women in their boardrooms, and they have showcased their considered view in this regard. 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. It is clear indication that gender bias exists at the highest levels of the Murugappa group," 59-year-old Valli Arunachalam, a holder of several patents based out of New York, said in a statement.
At the Monday AGM of AIL shareholders comprising largely uncles and cousins of Valli, her bid to become a non-executive director of the company was rejected with 91.36% of votes cast against her.
Had the shareholders approved the resolution, Valli, who has been asking for a position on the company’s board for a long time, would have been the first woman director of AIL.
Murugappa Group didn’t comment on Mint’s queries.
Valli, her sister Vellachi Murugappan and their mother M.V. Valli Murugappan, collectively hold 8.15% stake in Ambadi, a stake they inherited from M.V. Murugappan. According to a person familiar with the development, M.V. Valli Murugappan is the ‘Karta’ of the three-member Hindu Undivided Family. Under the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005, women could become the Karta or head of the family and daughters became coparceners, allowing them to inherit as much as sons.
Arunachalam said she was not going to take this lying down, saying her family (she, her sister and mother) would pursue justice and take all the steps needed for the same.
“It was always our wish that the family issues remain within and are settled at the family level, but clearly it seems the family is more concerned about protecting its draconian perspectives and practices, even if it means forcing us to take the battle to courts. We will not shy away this time," said Valli, the eldest daughter of M.V. Murugappan, who died in 2017.
Quoting U.S Supreme court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away this week, Valli said in her statement, ““Women belong in all places where decisions are being made" and it cannot be truer for this company.
Headquartered in Chennai, Murugappa Group was founded in 1900 and has over two dozen businesses, from farm to finance, including nine listed companies.
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