India's feuding Singh brothers end legal battle after mum steps in

Fortis Healthcare chairman Malvinder Singh (right) and his brother Shivinder in a 2010 photo.
Fortis Healthcare chairman Malvinder Singh (right) and his brother Shivinder in a 2010 photo.ST FILE PHOTO

MUMBAI • A public rupture between the heirs to one of India's most storied business houses looks to be healing after the mother of the two Singh brothers - "synonymous with each other" for decades - convinced her younger son to withdraw a lawsuit against the elder.

Mr Shivinder Singh has withdrawn a suit alleging "oppression and mismanagement" against his brother Malvinder and a senior manager in their corporate group after their mother requested they engage in mediation led by family elders instead, according to an order issued yesterday by Justice M. M. Kumar of India's National Company Law Tribunal.

The suit came amid an ongoing collapse of the Singh family's generations-old healthcare and financial services empire.

In recent months, they have seen their public shareholdings seized by lenders, the launch of a criminal investigation into 23 billion rupees (S$440 million) missing from their listed companies, and a court order to pay US$500 million (S$684 million) over fraud allegations arising from the 2008 sale of drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories.

Both brothers have previously denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Shivinder Singh, 43, said his decision to disassociate himself from his 45-year-old brother as a business partner stands despite withdrawal of the suit. If mediation fails, he held out the possibility of filing a new case.

Mr Malvinder Singh did not respond to a request for comment.

The Singhs are famous in India for expanding their two public companies - hospital operator Fortis Healthcare and financial firm Religare Enterprises - at breakneck speed after reaping US$2 billion from the sale of the business their father had built.

Ranbaxy was then India's largest drugmaker.

Their two other companies went on to top US$1 billion in market value as India's demand for health and financial services climbed.

India's stock market and fraud regulators have launched investigations into financial irregularities at Religare and Fortis, but they have yet to report their findings.

In July, Malaysia's IHH Healthcare Berhad agreed to take control of Fortis, and minority shareholders have taken over at Religare.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2018, with the headline 'India's feuding Singh brothers end legal battle after mum steps in'. Print Edition | Subscribe