Denying industry speculation that Gharda Chemicals and Godrej…

Denying industry speculation that Gharda Chemicals and Godrej Industries may go for an out-of-court settlement brokered by leaders in the Parsi community, sources close to the agrochemicals major said the company is hoping for a solution from the Bombay High Court, where the dispute currently rests.

Though founder Keki Gharda refused to comment, “The matter is sub-judice, I can’t talk,” he said. Sources told ET that the dispute continues and the veteran scientist “is in no mood to entertain Adi Godrej’s claim of holding 6% stake in the company.”

Mr Godrej, head of Godrej Industries, is said to have shown interest in making a strategic investment in the Rs 700-crore company, especially after Mr Gharda announced his succession plans. Mr Godrej had reportedly bought the stake from one of Dr Gharda’s relatives a few years ago.

Mr Godrej refused to comment. Known for its R&D strength, Gharda Chemicals has always been wooed by foreign and Indian suitors. According to industry estimates, the company could be worth three-four times its turnover or about Rs 2,400 crore.

But Mr Gharda, without a successor, hasn’t warmed up to Mr Godrej’s offer and has gone ahead with his succession plans. Last month, he appointed Sunil Nayak, formerly with L&T and Hindustan Unilever, as CEO. This is the first time Gharda Chemicals has a CEO.

“Plans are on to hire professionals and constitute a board of directors. This should be done in another three months. Mr Gharda, who turns 78 next month, is looking for a long-term solution so that the company continues to function after him,” said a source.

Mr Gharda and his wife hold 60% in the company. Relatives and some employees hold 33%. Any significant management change will need the support of 75% of shareholders, something Mr Gharda has been unable to garner.

“Mr Gharda is more of a scientist and does not like to be involved in squabbles. In fact, he is taking help from close aides to follow the case in the high court,” said the source.

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