CHENNAI: The shareholders of privately held Ambadi Investments on Monday rejected a resolution pertaining to the appointment of Valli Arunachalam, a fourth generation Murugappa family member, to the board of the company.
In a swift reaction, Arunachalam charged the family of gender discrimination and said she would pursue legal recourse to settle the dispute.
Valli Arunachalam, a nuclear scientist, her sister Vellachi, a tech professional, and their mother were bequeathed with 8.15% stake in Ambadi Investments, upon the demise of her father MV Murugappan in September 2017. Since then, she had asked the family to buy them out or allow the board representation to her.
“I am shocked at the manner in which the family, which is the majority shareholder, in this case, has conducted itself. Our family branch has been asking the majority shareholders in Ambadi to settle our shareholding in a fair manner. We made multiple attempts to ask the family to settle us per my father’s wishes by purchasing our stake in Ambadi at fair value. We have proposed many ways in which they can settle the matter amicably, including mediation, and they have refused. For more than a year now, I have been asking for a board seat, pending the settlement, to make sure our rights are preserved as a promoter and major shareholder. Finally, they agreed to allow my board nomination, but they did not appoint me in the interim, and asked me to wait for the next AGM, which was more than nine months away,” Arunachalam said in a statement.
“In any event, we would definitely pursue justice and we will 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,” Arunachalam said.
Emails sent to Murugappa Group did not get a response. On earlier occasions, the group said it was a matter in the affairs of a privately held holding company.
“.. yet again they have made clear their intent of continuing the oppressive and vexatious conduct against us,” she said and charged the family of gender discrimination.
“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 a clear indication that gender bias exists at the highest levels of the Murugappa Group,” Arunachalam’s statement said.
“A 23-year old male heir with a master’s degree and no job-experience can be inducted to the board soon after his father’s passing,” it said.
Murugappa Group runs 28 businesses and earns nearly Rs 37,000 crore in annual revenues and has more than 50,000 employees.



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