A day after family members of Murugappa Group rejected a proposal to appoint Valli Arunachalam to the board of Ambadi Investments Ltd (AIL), the daughter of late executive chairman MV Murugappan has said she is ready to take the battle to courts.
The shareholders of Abadi Investments (AIL), which is the holding company of Rs 38,100 crore Murugappa Group, voted overwhelmingly against the induction of Arunachalam into its board.
The decision was taken at the AGM (annual general meeting) on Monday, September 21, not to allow her on the holding company's board that controls the conglomerate.
This has dealt a major blow to the 59-year-old New York-based scientist's efforts to enter the male-dominated board of the company.
Decrying sexist bias in the group, Arunachalam in a statement said, "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."
The AIL shareholders, mostly including Arunachalam's cousins and uncles, voted against the resolution with 91.36 per cent of votes cast against her, while only 8.64 per cent voted in her favour. Had the resolution been approved, Arunachalam would have been the first female director of AIL.
Charging the family of gender discrimination, she further stated in her 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 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, her sister Vellachi Murugappan and their mother MV Valli Murugappan together hold an 8.15 per cent stake in the holding entity.
The fifth generation Murugappa family controls the Rs 40,000-crore conglomerate, which has 10 listed companies, including the likes of EID Parry, Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company and Coromandel Fertilisers.
The group has 28 registered businesses and runs other businesses such as bicycles, engineering, fertilisers and finance and employs over 50,000 people.