Anand Mahindra’s adventures have come home to roost

A necessary clean-up is underway, with Mahindra & Mahindra rethinking how it allocates capital to businesses.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd has come a long way. The company began making automobiles with the earliest versions of the famous Willys jeep in newly independent India back in the late 1940s, when the country barely even had any metalled roads. M&M established for its vehicles a reputation that they were built to never fall apart, sturdy and reliable no matter where or how you drove them. Such was its position in popular imagination that a typical Indian movie wouldn’t have ended until the villain’s Mahindra Bolero or Scorpio was blasted off the screen.

What you were made to believe you could do with a Mahindra vehicle was take detours off the beaten path.

For Anand Mahindra—a graduate student of filmmaking and architecture and the company’s charismatic chairman—that perhaps was the inspiration behind how he led India’s fourth-largest automaker, the Mahindra group’s flagship firm. He was perhaps sure nothing would happen to the company, started by his grandfather, no matter which direction he took it. And so, for years, he spearheaded one expansion, investment or acquisition after another.

But it looks like the time has come to stop trying to find a new path in the wilderness and return to the highway.

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Cover image from the World Economic Forum via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an infographic on Mahindra & Mahindra's earnings in which the legend for revenue and profit was incorrectly labelled.

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