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Billionaire Hindujas' truce in doubt as lawyers say rift remains

The Hindujas last year had agreed to slam the brakes on copious litigation across Europe, putting on hold a feud that was tearing apart the once tightly knit British-Indian group

Hinduja family

Photo: Bloomberg

Bloomberg

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By Jonathan Browning

The truce governing the billionaire Hinduja family was thrown into doubt in a London court after lawyers for the patriarch Srichand said the dispute between Gopichand Hinduja and his niece remained.
 
The Hindujas last year had agreed to slam the brakes on copious litigation across Europe, putting on hold a feud that was tearing apart the once tightly knit British-Indian group. But on Monday, a judge was told that the family was still haggling over the governance and succession planning of the business empire some 10 months later.

“At the time it was presented as a treaty and the war was over,” Judge Anthony Hayden said. “There was rejoicing and singing. It’s perhaps not astonishing that it’s turned out to be something less than a treaty.”

In the past, the four brothers, who have a collective net worth of about $14 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, had always presented a united front. But the family has been revealed to be deeply divided after details of court proceedings emerged.

SP, as the 87-year-old is known, suffers from dementia, and the court was told that at one point the family’s dispute went so deep that he was days away from being transferred to a state-run National Health Service hospital.

The feud centers on a pact signed by the four Hinduja brothers in 2014 that “everything belongs to everyone and nothing belongs to anyone.” Gopichand, 83, had first claimed that the letter, signed by the brothers, governed the succession planning for the conglomerate but agreed in June to effectively tear it up, saying that it was no longer legally enforceable against his elder brother.

Even as the family continue to negotiate a broader settlement, Srichand’s daughter Vinoo and Gopichand are yet to resolve a dispute about what happened to the 2014 letter and how it may have been used, according to Nikki Singla, a lawyer representing Srichand’s interests. 

“There are so many assets in so many different jurisdictions” and “no apparent forethought was ever given to any sort of division were this time to come to pass,” Singla said Monday.

Spokespeople for Gopichand and for Vinoo didn’t immediately comment.

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First Published: Apr 24 2023 | 7:48 PM IST

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