Feature

Burman's date with equities

Dabur's financial services joint venture with the unknown Espirito when the industry is in turmoil, has the industry abuzz. What gives?

Vishal Koul

It’s a tradition the Burman family loves to keep. On every Friday, they meet for lunch at the family office in New Delhi’s ITO area. During the meal they discuss everything from life to work. “Friday has become the day when we get together and spend time,” says Mohit Burman, a fourth-generation entrepreneur from the Burman family, promoters of Dabur. “We started this tradition in 1997 and it continues till date.” The lunch, while informal, gives the family a chance to discuss business plans and brainstorm. It was at one such lunch that Burman proposed his idea of entering the equity broking business. The idea found approval. In November 2011, Mohit and his younger brother, Gaurav Burman, bought a 25% stake in Espírito Santo Securities, the Indian unit of Portuguese bank Banco Espírito Santo, to offer 

investment banking and institutional brokerage services. While Espírito will make an initial investment of around $10 million, the Burmans plan to invest $2 million (₹10 crore) in the joint venture. While that is hardly worth talking about any more, Burman says it is only seed capital and they will ramp up their investments as they go on.

More important is the fact that the joint venture with Espírito  marks Burmans’ entry into the highly competitive equity broking business at the most inopportune time, that too with an unknown partner. Mohit Burman’s desire to scale up his finance business is understandable—he holds an MBA in finance from Babson Graduate School of Business, Massachusetts, and his first date was with Dabur Finance. After the unremarkable stint, in the 1990s with Dabur Finance, which no longer exists, the group ventured into the insurance sector with its first joint venture with ABN Amro bank in 2001 to market the bank’s life insurance products. It then partnered Fidelity International and Aviva Life Insurance and brought them to India. Fidelity eventually bought out Mohit Burman’s 25% stake but the family still holds a 74% stake in Aviva Life and a 10% stake in Universal Sompo General Insurance. So far, the Burmans have invested close to ₹2,000 crore into the insurance business. So the equity broking ma

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