The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Birla daughter named in will

Calcutta, July 21: One member of the Birla family won a vote of confidence from Priyamvada Birla in her will, a source said.

Nandini Nopany, the daughter of K.K. Birla, has been “favourably mentioned” in the will of the deceased wife of the late M.P. Birla. Priyamvada Birla, who died on July 3, bequeathed all of the assets of the MP Birla group — estimated at Rs 5,000 crore — to chartered accountant Rajendra Singh Lodha.

“Nandini has been given the charge to manage the show at Belle Vue. But the will had also mentioned that Lodha will be the overall in-charge,” said the source who has seen the document.

Nopany was known to be close to Priyamvada Birla and was the sole representative of the Birla clan on the board of Birla Corporation, the flagship company of the MP Birla group. She is also the only member of the family to have met Lodha in a corporate boardroom — at the meeting of Birla Corporation’s board yesterday — since the inheritance controversy became public last week.

Nopany has been looking after the hospital on Loudon Street along with Priyamvada Birla. “Taking orders from an aunt is different from working for an outsider,” explained the source.

In any case, the Birla family has vowed to challenge the will in court. Calcutta High Court sent a notice to the Birlas today, informing them of the Lodhas’ move to have the will legally authenticated.

Two minor mistakes have been discovered in the Lodha petition to probate (authenticate) the will, but those are rectifiable in 10 minutes.

High court sources said the case of execution of the will would come up for hearing before Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee in a couple of days.

The Lodhas claim that the will was made in 1999. Sources close to the Lodha family said Priyamvada Birla had declared at a board meeting of Birla Corporation in September 2001 that she wanted R.S. Lodha to be her successor. At the same meeting, she announced the appointment of Lodha as co-chairman of the company.

They quote her as saying that she would have “appointed Mr Rajendra Singh Lodha as the chairman of the company” had he (Lodha) not insisted she continue to hold the position of chairperson. The sources said she had announced: “Mr Rajendra Singh Lodha is my chosen successor.”

Her statements were recorded in the minutes of the meeting, which was also attended by Nopany.

K.C. Mittal, Birla Corporation’s executive head, could not recollect the words used by Priyamvada Birla, but he said the chairperson’s speech was loaded with praise for Lodha.

“After three years, I can’t remember exactly what she had said, but I can recall that she had said a lot of good things about Lodha,” Mittal said.

Legal experts expect Lodha to have used this statement in his probate petition.

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