Super Seven

The Godrej guardian

The legacy has thrived for 116 years. Its chairman thinks the Godrej group is even better poised for the future

Photographs by Soumik Kar

Although it now seems like a steal
When Kotak offered him the deal,
There was no time for diligence
With courage and intelligence
He very quickly clinched the deal,
Relying on his good gut feel.
Not that he threw away all caution
He took the brilliant precaution
Of ensuring he bought good wares
By selling a small chunk of shares
To Kotak and the firm’s MD. 
Ah! What a clever strategy!
And with this move so swift and bold
The company came in our fold.

Excerpt from a poem by Nadir Godrej, MD, Godrej Industries, written in honour of Godrej group chairman Adi Godrej being conferred the Padma Bhushan, in April 2013

In 1994, Arumugham Mahendran asked his friend Uday Kotak to help find a buyer for Transelektra Domestic, the household insecticides company where he was executive director. While the company’s brand, Good Knight, had become already become synonymous with electrical mosquito repellent, the promoter was keen to sell out and explore other businesses. Kotak spoke with Adi Godrej, who said he would like to visit the factory at Pondicherry before coming to a decision. At the site, Mahendran walked Godrej round, carrying on a running commentary about the processes and how the insecticide was made, but “I could see his mind was only half there. Suddenly, he wandered off on his own.” Godrej left the factory tour, asked a worker to show him the excise records and company books, and was busy going through them when Mahendran finally tracked him down. “He was checking the despatches of the previous month, seeing whether they were in the ₹ 5 crore range or not,” Mahendran recalls with a smile. The deal with Transelektra was for ₹ 60 crore and Godrej wanted proof that the company was really doing that much business. On the way back from Pondicherry, Godrej just said, “Fine. We can proceed.” “It was as simple as that — we more or less closed the deal in a week. No private equity or venture capitalist in India — indeed, no one else — can do that,” declares Mahendran.

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