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Bajaj brothers bury hatchet

New Delhi, Dec. 31: The Ambanis may squabble well into the new year, but the Bajaj family feud has been settled.

'My brother Shishir has given up on the extra demands that he raised in early 2004,' Rahul Bajaj, chairman and managing director of Bajaj Auto, told The Telegraph. 'It is only this month that Shishir's solicitor has written to our solicitor saying that he (Shishir) has given up on those extra demands.'

Bajaj refused to spell out what Shishir's fresh demands were. 'At this moment, I will not spell out what these extra demands were because it is very complicated and I do not feel the need to explain.'

The Bajaj family feud, which broke out three years ago, pits Shishir against brother Rahul and their cousins Shekhar, Niraj and Madhur. Shishir, who manages Bajaj Hindustan and Bajaj Consumercare, had wanted a division of the family assets and an untangling of the crossholdings within the group.

Rahul Bajaj said a settlement had finally been reached after Shishir backed down from his fresh demands.

'I am very happy that we have a settlement. It is good news because the family dispute was going on for the last three years. It will take us another two to three months before we reach a final settlement by March 31.'

In April, Rahul Bajaj intends to give up his executive position as managing director in favour of eldest son Rajiv. 'From April, I will hand over the reins of Bajaj Auto Limited to my two sons, Rajiv and Sanjiv. Rajiv will become the managing director. I will take over as the chairman of the founding board,' he added.

Bajaj said he would not interfere with day-to-day operations of Bajaj Auto. 'But as the chairman, I will continue to represent the interests of the shareholders and various other stakeholders,' he said. 'Should there be any problem, I will take up the matter with the management.'

'The final settlement (with Shishir) will, however, be based upon the terms of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed last year and the arbitration award granted in the month of February 2004,' Bajaj added.

Under the terms of the MoU, Shishir will buy out Rahul and his cousin's stake in Bajaj Hindustan and Bajaj Consumercare. Rahul and the others will, in turn, buy out Shishir's 5.7 per cent stake in Bajaj Auto.

The battle in the Bajaj family has neared a settlement several times in the past only to break down over the nitty-gritty. In June 2003, S. Gurumurthy had helped hammer out a settlement within the family. 'In June 2003, an MoU was signed between Shishir and the other four brothers. We reached a settlement as a part of the MoU,' Bajaj said.

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