Calcutta, June 20: The Emami group is scheduled to buy the stake held by S.K. Todi’s Shrachi group in AMRI Hospitals in an apparent attempt to delink the brand from a past when it was perceived to have been friendly to the CPM.
Sources said the buyout process was initiated a few days ago and a consultant has been engaged to evaluate the assets and liabilities of Shrachi that now holds over 32 per cent in the hospital.
“We have engaged a consultant for the evaluation. Once the valuation is fixed, the transfer of shares will be finalised,” a senior Emami official said today.
The Emami group, co-owned by the families of R.S. Agarwal and R.S. Goenka, now hold 66 per cent shares in the hospital chain while the state government holds 1.9 per cent.
While the transfer talks have been on for several months, the final decision to start the process by engaging a consultant was taken at a meeting about a couple of weeks ago, the sources said.
According to sources close to the Todi family, the Shrachi group wants to sell its stake in AMRI because of the losses the two groups have suffered after the December 2011 fire in which 91 people had died. The AMRI group had run up losses of more than Rs 100 crore by paying salaries to employees of the Dhakuria unit and accounting for depreciation of assets.
“Once the deal is formalised, Ravi Todi, son of S.K. Todi, will step down from the board of directors of AMRI,” one of the sources said.
Former chief minister Jyoti Basu and his cabinet colleague Subhas Chakraborty were among CPM leaders who spent their last days at AMRI Salt Lake. Among other factors, such instances were often cited as evidence of the proximity between S.K. Todi and the then CPM leadership.
After the AMRI board was reconstructed in 2013, the Mamata Banerjee government had eased its stand and later restored the health licence to the OPD at the Dhakuria unit.
The reconstituted board does not have 12 of the 14 former directors.
The licence of the hospital was cancelled two days after the fire. The state government last week issued the fire department’s no-objection certificate for the reopening of the indoor facilities in parts of AMRI Dhakuria.
The clearance came days after R.S. Goenka, R.S. Agarwal and their sons met the chief minister at Nabanna on June 10 where she had asked them about the investments the Emami group was making in Bengal.
S.K. Todi was not present at that meeting. “S.K. Todi’s closeness to the erstwhile CPM-led government was not liked by the present government,” said a hospital source.
AMRI has four hospitals — three in Calcutta and one in Bhubaneswar — with a total bed-strength of nearly 1,000. It also has a clinic on Southern Avenue and a diabetes clinic and nursing college opposite the Dhakuria hospital.
The Jyoti Basu government had handed over a 25-cottah Dhakuria plot to AMRI in the early 1990s after locking the annual lease rent at Rs 9.94 lakh for 30 years.
Then it was a polyclinic run by a trust called Niramoy Group of Institutions. Once the clinic shut down, the Left Front government had brought in Todi and another promoter in 1994 and AMRI Hospitals was set up.
The Agarwal and Goenka families got involved in the hospital project in the late 1990s, said sources.
“Todi was a friend of the Emami co-owners for decades. He convinced them to invest in AMRI after the other promoter expressed his wish to sell off his shares,” said a source. Gradually, Emami bought the shares of the promoter and acquired a majority stake in the hospital.
The AMRI group had entered into an agreement with the Apollo Hospitals group in the late 1990s, under which Apollo helped in managing the Dhakuria unit. Several senior and mid-level officials of AMRI were sent to Apollo Hyderabad for training.
Sources in the hospital said S.K. Todi assumed the role of a hands-on director ever since the Apollo group moved out in November 2003.
S.K. Todi, a minority stakeholder in AMRI Hospitals, had sweeping management control over the Dhakuria facility before the 2011 fire, according to insiders.