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Veteran industrialist and Williamson Magor Group patriarch B M Khaitan dies at 92

PTI     June 1, 2019

Industrialist Brij Mohan Khaitan, who hogged the limelight by acquiring the Indian business of Union Carbide in the 1990s, passed away Saturday morning at his residence here due to old-age ailments, family sources said.

Khaitan, 92, was the patriarch of the Williamson Magor Group that deals in dry-cell battery, tea and engineering services.

Citing old age, he had stepped down as the chairman recently from the boards of the Group's two key companies -- Eveready Industries India Ltd and Mcleod Russel India Ltd.

He, however, remained chairman emeritus for both the companies.

Business chambers and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have offered their condolences.

In a tweet, Banerjee said, "Saddened at the passing away of noted industrialist BM Khaitan Ji. He was a much respected elder statesman of the business community of Bengal. My condolences to his family, his colleagues and his friends".

Indian Chamber of Commerce said, "ICC is extremely grieved to learn the sad demise of B M Khaitan ji. We deeply mourn his sad demise as he was our revered guide and patron. His passing away is a great loss to the family and to the Business fraternity as well. He was a doyen of the Indian industry".

Khaitan got the Lifetime Achievement Award from the ICC in 2013.

He is known for buying out the Indian business of Union Carbide in the 1990s. It gave him a dominant position in the dry-cell battery business, which continues till today.

Khaitan ran the world's biggest teashop from his home town Kolkata. McLeod Russel has remained the world's largest bulk tea producer at least till recently.

His tea empire began with Assam and later he had expanded his geography to Uganda, Rwanda and Vietnam.

However, the group is currently struggling with high debts at the company and group level.

The group has already appointed a merchant banker to find a strategic partner or buyer for Eveready Industries.

While the Mcleod was selling many of its tea gardens to raise funds, its infrastructure company McNally Bharat was also looking ahead for a debt recast.

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