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Innovators all! And in such diverse fields! The super forge master Textiles to pharma, real estate, financial services… The container pioneer
Textiles to pharma, real estate, financial services…
“Our value systems helped create economic value. The Rs 100,000 invested in our stock in 1988 is today valued Rs 20 crore.” – Ajay Piramal

Founder-Chairman of Shriram Group, R Thyagarajan (RT), often used to express his admiration for the entrepreneurship and sterling qualities of Ajay Piramal, head of the Piramal Group of companies. A few years ago, RT got Piramal associated with the financial services of the Shriram Group, off-loading 20 per cent of shareholding of Shriram Capital. Piramal heads this group that has an asset base exceeding Rs 80,000 crore dealing in financial services including hire purchase of commercial vehicles, tractors and other transport equipment (predominantly used vehicles), insurance, and other forms of retail lending. In recent months, Ajay Piramal and RT have been exploring the prospects for inducting the IDFC Bank to form a mega corporation for retail financing. 


Building a home-grown mega corp

At the TiECon 2017, Ajay Piramal presented an address on building a home-based global enterprise. He related the tagline of the meet of Dream. Dare. Do to the evolution of the Piramal group. With his deep insights into India’s hoary past, he related the theme with the excellence in philosophers like Panini. “They dreamed, dared and did deliver,” said Piramal. He pointed to Indian businesses  daring to do things differently and also to take paths less travelled. 


Textiles to pharma - a Hanuman jump

30 years ago when Ajay Piramal took charge, he found the textile business passing through challenging times. He dared to move away from textiles and entered the totally new and challenging business of pharmaceuticals. He described the growth through three stages - of having a deep driving desire, the will to dwell deep into action and to shape destiny.


From the 48th to the 5th rank…

In 1988 Piramal made a small acquisition from a MNC: “our business was then ranked 48. We had no experience in the pharma industry. It was a crazy desire to set the goal to be among the top five by 2000.” Piramal said that having set the goal, with broad directions  the strategy evolved and we goaded people to achieve the goal: “we did rise to the top five in 2000,” said Piramal. 

In describing this evolution Piramal said that he encountered a lot of problems. But they kept learning out of these. Piramal provided an instance: “we faced the problem of the location of our pharma chemical unit in the thickly populated heart of Mumbai city. We shifted the unit out, leveraged the priced real estate by setting up Crossroads, the first and most successful shopping mall of the country. This formed the starting point of the group emerging strong in the real estate business.  

“We partnered with global companies with such values: statistically, 75 per cent of acquisitions are not successful. For us, 90 per cent of our acquisitions proved success. In concluding such agreements, we stuck by two principles on which we adhered to in letter and spirit:  to maintain international standards of quality of the brands contracted and stood by the agreement not to export these branded products.” 

The value systems thus helped create economic value. “The Rs 100,000 invested in our stock in 1988 is today valued Rs 20 crore,” Piramal pointed out. This leader in the pharma, financial services and real estate businesses expressed his social concerns through liberal endowments for education and skill development. – S V

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