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britannia: The Britannia Way: Wadias to forsake executive roles, remain shareholders


The Wadia family will stay as shareholders in the aviation-to-biscuits conglomerate and not hold executive roles in group companies as part of a strategic decision taken by the promoters to drive growth and ensure better shareholder returns, a highly placed group official said.

Non-family professionals will be mandated to drive growth and boost shareholder value. Recently, Jeh Wadia, group chairman Nusli Wadia’s younger son, stepped off executive posts on the Go Air and

boards to be a non-executive director.

The group did not respond to ET’s request for comment. A group director, on the condition of anonymity, told ET it was about ensuring the most competent person for the job. “The focus is to build competent organisations and attract the best talent pool. Promoters must ensure boundaries are laid out in terms of the role the promoters will play in the company. The proof of the pudding will be in how it plays out,” he said.

A group watcher said the decision has been taken late in the day but would ensure growth by attracting good quality talent on board. “Usually, every group has one dominant person who is also a shareholder. Nusli Wadia has been directing and holding the reins for a long time, with his experience and entrepreneurial gut sense. But it is time to infuse fresh thinking and talent from outside the family to grow,” he said.

Ness Wadia, the Wadia patriarch’s elder son, is already a non-executive member of group companies.

While shares of

, the flagship company led by a non-family professional, have given a return of 42% in the last three years, the other three companies of the group have given a negative return. Bombay Dyeing shares were down 70% compared with 40% positive returns of the benchmark Nifty in three years.
Shares of Bombay Burmah Trading and National Peroxide were also down by 7% and 3% respectively. The decision was taken following months of discussions with management experts, board members and the family, he said.

The group has been advised to follow the strategy Britannia did, where non-family professionals have been in charge. Since Varun Berry took charge as managing director seven years ago, Britannia’s market cap has risen eight times from `10,000 crore to `89,793 crore while turnover almost doubled. Profits grew three times in Berry’s tenure.

At Bombay Dyeing CEO Suresh Khurana and CFO Hitesh Vora would now look after the day-to-day management and work under the supervision of Minnie Bodhanwala, a company director. Promoters and its board together formulated a long-term plan with the goal of taking GoAir to its next phase of growth. Ben Baldanza, who has been an adviser to the company from 2018 and director since 2019, will now be the vice-chairman of the GoAir board.

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