Vijaypat Singhania, Raymond Group founder, is ‘deeply disappointed’ to witness his son Gautam Singhania ‘breaking up’ the company and lamented his ‘stupid mistake’ of ‘giving away everything’ to his son. The 85-year-old former Raymond Chairman’s statement comes at a time when Gautam is in the middle of a bitter marital spat with Nawaz Modi, his wife of 32 years, who has demanded 75 percent of his fortune as part of the divorce settlement.
In an interview with Business Today, the retired industrialist, who built Raymond from a small fabric company into a world-renowned brand, said seeing his son dismantle the company is heart-wrenching.
“He’s (Gautam Singhania) breaking up Raymond. It breaks my heart. But I don’t interfere. I don’t tell him what he should do. He has to live. I have lived my life. I have maybe 2-3 years left,” Vijaypat said.
Estranged Father-Son Relationship
A once cherished father-son relationship between Vijaypat Singhania and Gautam itself now stands embroiled in a bitter family feud. Vijaypat thought he was keeping his billion-dollar Indian textile empire in the family when he gifted control of the Raymond Group to his son Gautam in 2015.
But their relationship has disintegrated spectacularly since, with the father accusing the son of cheating him out of a exclusive apartment and of unceremoniously kicking him out of the company offices.
Vijaypat alleged the Raymond boss ‘backed out’ after promising to give him some parts of the company and, cautioned parents about “giving everything” to their children.
Vijaypat had accused Gautam of driving him out of his family property in south Mumbai’s JK House in 2017. As per a family agreement, Vijaypat, along with some other members of his family, were designated to receive individual duplexes in the family-owned JK House.
He was also removed as Raymond’s Chairman Emeritus in 2018.
“I have no business. He had agreed to give me some parts of the company, but of course, he backed out. So I have nothing else. I gave him everything. By mistake, I was left with some money on which I’m surviving today. Otherwise, I would have been on the road…Parents should think very carefully before they give away everything to their children,” he said, according to BT report.
Bitter Divorce Battle
Speaking about his son’s separation from his estranged wife, Nawaz Modi, Vijaypat said he never hoped to see such situation in his own family. Earlier this month, Modi had claimed that Gautam did not let her enter the house during Diwali celebrations, a video of which had gone viral on social media.
“It’s difficult to describe what one goes through when you see your own family going to this kind of stress. I can only pray to God. He helps to solve these issues,” he said.
However, the octogenarian clarified that it is not his “business to interfere in what two grown-up people are likely to go through”.
On November 13, Gautam announced his separation from Modi, after which she reportedly sought 75 per cent of Raymond boss’s Rs 11,000 crore wealth.
Addressing Modi’s demand, Vijaypat noted that under the Hindu Marriage Act, 50 per cent of the husband’s holding automatically goes to the wife in a case of separation.
“She may not need to fight for it. A very simple lawyer can get her that under the Hindu Marriage Act,” he said asserting that his son would never agree to give her 75 per cent of his wealth, in order to secure the financial well-being of their two daughters, Niharika and Nisa.
“Why is she fighting for 75 per cent? Gautam is never going to give in, because his motto is – buy everybody and buy everything. That’s what he did with me. I didn’t have that kind of money left to fight him. He bought everything. He’ll buy everything. By fighting like this, I don’t think she’ll get much. Unless she has, maybe, a person like Harish Salve, Mukul Rohatgi, Kapil Sibal.” the former industrialist told BT.
Impact of Company Reputation
When asked about potential negative impact of the dispute on Raymond’s reputation, Vijaypat said that depends on how shareholders, bankers, and stakeholders perceive the situation.
“Raymond has a very large number of mature, logical shareholders. They can think for themselves. If they see something bad, they react quickly,” he said.
“Raymond’s name will ultimately depend on how a larger number of shareholders, bankers, buyers, sellers look at it. There are two things in it. One is how they see the issue itself and how it will affect them and they will also look at Raymond’s performance and they are not necessarily the same. So, I think it’s a very difficult question to answer whether it will affect the Raymond name. We took a long time to build it. It was a very small company making blankets when we bought and then I took over. Today, it has worldwide fame,” he added.