The Mindset of an Indian Pioneer

Ajay Piramal is Chairman of Piramal Group, a leading business conglomerate in India which employs 10,000 people in 30 countries. Mr Piramal also serves as Non-Executive Director on the Board of Tata Sons, India’s largest company.

Successfully building any multinational enterprise is a challenging endeavour. Doing so from within India is yet another matter. In this exclusive interview with Ajay Piramal, we explore the mindset of one of India’s most revered industrialists.

By the age of 30, Mr. Piramal was controlling the textile business which his grandfather had established in 1934. Since then he has taken the group into financial services, pharmaceuticals and real-estate. We ask Mr. Piramal to share his unique insights on what he considers fundamental to long-term success in India. We challenge him on the considerable issues which foreign investors face in navigating the complexities which underly the world’s largest democracy, and explore his view of India’s wider role on the global stage, particularly with regards to China and the ASEAN region.

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Ajay Piramal
Chairman of Piramal Group

Ajay Piramal was in Rajasthan, India on 3 August 1955. In 1977, at age 22, Piramal started out in his family's textile business, founded in 1934 by his grandfather Piramal Chatrabhuj. Following the deaths of his father and brother, Piramal was prompted to take over the business.

In 1988, Piramal bought Nicholas Laboratories, an Australian multinational corporation. The company is now ranked fifth among pharma companies in India, having made a string of overseas acquisitions like the Indian subsidiaries of Roche, Boehringer Mannheim, Rhone Poulenc, ICI and Hoechst Research Centre. India's first major shopping mall, Crossroads, was developed from three redundant Piramal factory buildings in Mumbai.

Piramal Enterprises invested in a significant shareholding of Vodafone India in 2011, later selling its stake at a 51.78% premium. After selling his stake in Vodafone India, Piramal purchased a 20% stake in Shriram Capital, an arm of the Chennai-based Shriram Group. Piramal became Chairman, a role from-which he resigned as part of a divestment in 2019.

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