India’s business families, the dynasties and the more humble first gens, have an almost intractable problem. No amount of legal paperwork can keep them from bickering, often bitterly, leading to messy court battles, mud-slinging and destruction of the business.
So why do these families fight? Having it all, why does almost every business family eventually end up in fractals of itself? And is there an ironclad way families can safeguard their future through elaborate shareholder or ownership agreements or through family constitutions?
Anecdotal evidence doesn’t seem to support that. Indeed, one of the triggers for many of today’s battles within business families seems to be agreements reached in the past which have come back to haunt them.
The classic example is the Singhania family which has already witnessed two internecine battles in the last 10 years, both not coincidentally, emanating from agreements signed and sealed in the past.