MAM Ramaswamy inherited the Chettinad business empire from his grandfather, Raja Annamali Chettiar. He built the business into a massive conglomerate with interests in cement, logistics, power, steel, minerals, plantations, healthcare, education, etc.
MAM Ramaswamy’s other notable achievement is that he is an avid race horse racer. He and Dr. Vijay Mallya were, during the latter’s glory days, collaborators and competitors in horse racing. One could frequently spot the duo living life king-size amidst the lush green race courses of the World.
While Dr. Vijay Mallya reportedly paid Rs. 4 crore for “Air Support”, an imported stallion, MAM Ramaswamy holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for winning over 500 classic races. He owns about 1000 horses presently.
MAM Ramaswamy does not have any children of his own. He adopted Muthiah in 1995.
Muthiah, now 43 years old, has turned out to be an ace industrialist in his own right. Under his watch, the Chettinad group has grown by leaps and bounds. Its turnover increased from Rs. 60 crore to Rs. 4000 crore. The group has planned an investment of Rs. 4000 crore to set up/ increase capacity in cement plants, logistics business, power plant etc.
Presently, the unfortunate situation is that MAM Ramaswamy and Muthiah are locked in a bitter struggle for control over the empire.
Muthiah appears to have won the first round. He managed to have a resolution passed at the AGM of Chettinad Cement, the flagship of the group, to remove MAM Ramaswamy from the position of director.
Ramaswamy fought back by getting the Registrar of Companies to declare the resolution “null and void”. In a counter attack, Muthiah claimed that the ROC had been bribed Rs. 10 lakhs and got the poor fellow arrested by the CBI.
The two have also lodged police complaints against each other. While earlier the complaints were about “harassment” and seeking to “oust from the Chettinad Palace”, things reached a flash point with Ramaswamy alleging that Muthiah was seeking to “eliminate” him and that he had sent goons over to the Chettinad Palace for that purpose.
MAM Ramaswamy’s final trump card is to annul the adoption. However, Muthiah was not fazed by that threat. “I have not heard anything about it. It will not affect me personally. He cannot disown me” he told the Hindu.
The latest news is that Muthiah has made a bid to calm the storm and to call a truce. However, his conditions are stiff. He wants Ramaswamy to “break free” from his “ill advisors” who are “poisoning” his mind. Worse, he wants Ramaswamy to stay away from the management of Chetttinad Cement and not interfere in business activities.
Muthiah has not indicated what he will give Ramaswamy in return for the latter relinquishing control.
Whether MAM Ramswamy will accept Muthiah’s offer and put an end to the sordid family drama requires to be watched closely.