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Billionaire Singh Brothers At Odds As The Younger Sues The Older For Mismanagement

NEW DELHI – When Shivinder Singh says in a public statement that “Malvinder and I…have been synonymous with one another” for two decades, that’s precisely how people who have dealt with the brothers describe them.

At one point, the “brotherhood” even extended to include Sunil (Sunny) Godhwani, as the Singh brothers, then the promoter family of Ranbaxy and Fortis, expanded into financial services with Religare.

But all that started coming apart and the last few months have seen fissures opening up between the “Singh brothers” (Malvinder and Shivinder) on one side, and Godhwani on the other. The explanation was that Godhwani allegedly let down the bothers’ implicit trust. For instance, a source says, the maze of deals in their business operations evident in the Fortis Hospitals Group was not the handiwork of the brothers. In fact, the brothers had said in a joint statement last month: “Godhwani used his position to conceive and orchestrate a series of transactions over the better part of a decade that led to our Group’s debt load by 2016.”

Against this backdrop, Shivinder’s public outburst on Tuesday has cracked open an entirely different faultline, with him on one side, and his older brother “Malav” or MMS (as he is known) and Godhwani on the other.

Coming out of his spiritual retirement, the younger Singh said: “I have filed a case against Malvinder and Sunil Godhwani in the NCLT for oppression and mismanagement of RHC Holding, Religare and Fortis.”

About three years ago, Shivinder had announced that he would step down as Executive Vice-Chairman of Fortis and take up full-time sewa at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas.

The Singh family is no stranger to internal feuds, be it between their visionary father Parvinder Singh and his father Bhai Mohan Singh or his brother Analjit Singh.

But sceptics wonder if there is more to Shivinder’s outburst than meets the eye. Especially since Fortis Hospitals, nurtured and built by Shivinder and Malvinder and now sold to Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare, still faces the overhang from a Daiichi deal gone awry.

The Singh bothers had sold their promoter stake in Ranbaxy to Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo in a $4.6-billion deal in 2008. But unpleasant developments caught up with them. Ranbaxy came in for stick from the US drug regulator, and the then owner Daiichi was forced to take the rap. A legal battle ensued between Daiichi and the Singhs, which continues to date, even as Daiichi sold Ranbaxy to Sun Pharmaceuticals in 2014 for $4 billion.

How Shivinder’s outburst will pan out in this already complicated situation is unclear. But whether it is another family feud playing out or an unwarranted distraction to the Daiichi legal imbroglio, either way, the brand that the Singh family created is all but eroded.

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