S.P. Hinduja, patriarch of world enterprise empire, dies at 87

S.P. Hinduja, the patriarch of one in every of Britain’s richest households, main a enterprise empire that grew from his father’s jute store in Mumbai right into a transnational powerhouse whose holdings embody a part of the previous Gulf Oil large, truck maker Ashok Leyland and a mansion close to Buckingham Palace, died Might 17 in London. He was 87.

A press release by the household introduced the dying however gave no further particulars. Mr. Hinduja had been out of the general public eye for years due to well being situations associated to dementia.

Beneath Mr. Hinduja, the eldest of 4 brothers, the Hinduja Group operated as a tightly run household community with out outdoors shareholders or in depth public disclosures of its enterprise portfolio, estimated at greater than $15 billion. The group’s wealth and affect, nonetheless, was evident by the high-profile connections solid by Mr. Hinduja and his household.

Earlier than shifting to Britain within the Nineteen Seventies, Mr. Hinduja, extensively often known as S.P., constructed ties with the shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, with companies that included dubbing Bollywood movies into Farsi. In the USA, Mr. Hinduja employed advisers reminiscent of Ted Sorensen, the previous speechwriter of President John F. Kennedy.

He constructed alliances in Britain with prime ministers, ambassadors and industrial envoys. He additionally was invited often to banquets hosted by Queen Elizabeth II as a neighborly gesture. (Mr. Hinduja, a vegetarian, introduced his personal meals made to his strict specs.) He made his few public appearances at occasions meant to burnish his philanthropic credentials: scholarships, constructing a Hindu temple in England and the opening in 1999 of the Hinduja Group-funded “Spirit Zone” on the Millennium Dome in Greenwich.

“The phrase ‘mysterious’ at all times appears to go along with the Hinduja title,” Mr. Hinduja instructed Britain’s Every day Categorical in 1999. “Why? As a result of we’re a non-public firm. We don’t want a excessive profile.”

But Mr. Hinduja’s fastidiously groomed public picture was at instances shattered by investigations into alleged affect peddling. Mr. Hinduja and his brothers have been underneath scrutiny by Indian authorities after reviews claiming bribes have been paid in reference to a $1.3 billion sale of weapons by the Swedish arms maker Bofors in 1986. The Hinduja household was cleared of any wrongdoing in 2005 by a courtroom in New Delhi.

Mr. Hinduja was additionally on the heart of a political tempest in Britain over his request for citizenship. A Cupboard member, Peter Mandelson, resigned in 2001 after disclosures that he had phoned the highest immigration official in 1998 relating to Mr. Hinduja’s software. Mandelson’s critics contended that he was doing a political favor after Mr. Hinduja’s pledge to assist with the Millennium Dome.

An impartial inquiry discovered no proof on improper acts by Mandelson or others. Mr. Hinduja, who obtained his passport in March 1999, threw a lavish social gathering that November together with his household for the Hindu pageant Diwali. On the visitor checklist was British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his spouse, Cherie.

The Hinduja household topped the British “wealthy checklist” in 2022 with an estimated wealth of 28.4 billion kilos, or about $35 billion. That whole, compiled by the Sunday Instances, included the worth of British property holdings. Their greatest trophy is the household’s London hub, 13-16 Carlton Home Terrace, 4 linked 18th century townhouses on a web site that was as soon as residence to King George IV earlier than he ascended to the throne in 1820.

The Forbes Checklist most not too long ago positioned the worth of the Hinduja household enterprise community at about $15.2 billion, which incorporates well being care, power and banking in Switzerland and India. Amongst its flagship acquisitions in the USA was the 1984 buy of a part of the previous Gulf Oil conglomerate from Chevron, and a 2012 deal for Houghton Worldwide, a maker of metalworking fluids and different chemical substances.

In 1987, Mr. Hinduja led efforts to take management of Ashok Leyland, which included remnants of the defunct British automaker British Leyland.

The household had lengthy proclaimed that its fortune was shared equally by all. “There isn’t a ‘that is mine, that is yours,’” Mr. Hinduja stated in 1996. “Now we have stored one kitty.”

That professed unity was torn aside as Mr. Hinduja’s well being failed. His three brothers filed a authorized problem to Mr. Hinduja’s declare of sole possession of S.P. Hinduja Banque Privée, based mostly in Geneva. The swimsuit cites a 2014 letter, signed by Mr. Hinduja and his brothers, reaffirming the household mantra of joint possession of all property.

Mr. Hinduja’s daughter, Vinoo Hinduja, countered that the letter had no authorized authority. In an announcement, the three brothers — Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok — stated they meant to struggle for shared possession, which they referred to as “dearly held household values.”

Srichand Parmanand Hinduja was born Nov. 28, 1935, in Karachi in what’s now Pakistan however then was a part of the British-ruled subcontinent. His father had began with a store in Mumbai promoting jute and textiles and later expanded to Iran, buying and selling in meals, spices and different commodities from India.

Mr. Hinduja studied in Mumbai, finishing his diploma at R.D. Nationwide School in 1952, after the tip of British rule and the 1947 partition that created Pakistan and post-colonial India. “I’ve skilled the lack of my homeland,” he stated.

He joined his father’s enterprise in Iran, serving to achieve the only real license to import Bollywood movies and dub them into Farsi. Shortly after their father’s dying in 1971, Mr. Hinduja and his brothers earned the admiration of Iran’s shah by arranging convoys carrying potatoes and onions throughout a meals scarcity. Pakistan didn’t enable Indian drivers to enter. The Hinduja brothers recruited South Koreans and others to drive the vehicles.

Mr. Hinduja and his brothers “had acquired a popularity for getting troublesome issues executed and discovering options the place others scratched their heads,” wrote Dean Nelson, a former British international correspondent, in his 2017 guide, “Jugaad Yatra: Exploring the Indian Artwork of Downside Fixing.”

Mr. Hinduja moved to Britain amid the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the shah.

Mr. Hinduja’s spouse, Madhu Srichand Hinduja, died in January. Along with his three brothers, survivors embody daughters Vinoo and Shanu. His son, Dharam, died in 1992 after setting himself on hearth in a rented room in Mauritius, the place he was staying together with his spouse. British media reported that he eloped with Ninotchka Sargon, an Australian, after the household had organized one other marriage. Sargon was doused with lighter fluid by her husband however managed to flee, police reviews stated.

Mr. Hinduja by no means publicly mentioned the obvious rifts together with his son over the wedding. “However to endure makes you sturdy,” he stated in 1999 in a uncommon touch upon the dying. “It reminds you of what life can do.”


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