What is now considered and referred to as the global conglomerates of India didn’t start out that magnificently. In fact, it took a determined individual who had almost lost everything before taking up the charge of the family’s textile business to bring it to the top.
This is the story of Ajay Piramal, the billionaire industrialist and the chairman of the Piramal Group. The same Piramal Group that is now excelling in the industries of pharmaceuticals, financial services, real estate, healthcare analytics and glass packaging.
Among the chief names, Piramal Realty, Piramal Glass, Piramal Enterprises and Piramal Foundation are subsidiaries of the Piramal Group.
When he was born in Rajasthan in 1955, Ajay’s father, Gopikisan Piramal was running the textile business set up by his grandfather, Piramal Chatrabhuj. However, Gopikisan didn’t live to see the end of 1979 and to make things even more difficult, Ajay’s older brother died of cancer five years after their father’s death.
With no one left to take the reins, Ajay, who was 22 at the time, had to take over the family’s textile business. Focusing on his bachelor’s degree in Science from Jai Hind College and Basantsingh Institute of Science and the University of Mumbai, Ajay knew that he was all that’s left of his family’s legacy and had to rebuild with whatever was remaining.
While maintaining and developing the business to flourish, he also applied for a Master’s degree in Management Sciences from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, University of Mumbai. In addition to this, Ajay also attended a six-week Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School to ensure that he had all the tools that would help him build his empire.
Ajay Piramal was an entrepreneur who knew that promising stocks would make for fine investment opportunities. Thus, he set out to lead the Piramal Enterprises Ltd as it invested in Gujarat Glass Limited, Ceylon Glass and Nicholas Laboratories along with Pfizer’s UK manufacturing facility by the name of Morpeth.
One of the most famous ventures Ajay took was buying the stakes in Vodafone in 2011 and 2012. The first investment bought a 5.5% stake in Vodafone for Rs 2,856 crore. The second was also a 5.5% stake totalling the sum to 11% but this time, the investment amounted to Rs 3,007 crore.
At the end of 2014, Ajay sold Piramal’s 11% stake in Vodafone for Rs 8,900 crore. This totalled the premium to about 51.78% that the company had profited.
Furthermore, a total of Rs 3,650 crore was invested in different wings of Shriram Group by Ajay Piramal. As he was continuing his business venture, he was also named the Chairman of Shriram Group, a role from which he later resigned in 2019.
Throughout this time, the growth of the Piramal Foundation was skyrocketing with remarkable undertakings from all subsidiaries of the conglomerate. For example, Piramal real estate accounts for some of the most luxurious and top-tier residential projects completed by the esteemed developer, Piramal Realty. Located around different regions of Maharashtra, Piramal Mahalaxmi, Piramal Revanta, Piramal Vaikunth and Piramal Aranya along with the famous South Mumbai mall, Cross Roads, are some of the key projects undertaken by Piramal Realty.
After having established himself as a business tycoon who’s now fully in control of one of the country’s biggest empires, Ajay Piramal has received numerous awards and honours in his name. Some of those include the Business Leader of the Year Award 2018, International Advertising Association Leadership Awards, Kriyasheel Global Achievers Award in 2010 and more.
While also being the Chairman of the Piramal Group, Ajay serves as the Non-Executive Director of Tata Sons Ltd, as a member to the Board of Dean’s Advisors, Harvard Business School, Chairman of Pratham Education Foundation and as the Co-Chair in the UK-India CEO Forum as well. In addition to these roles, Ajay also acts as the Member of the Central Board of State Bank of India and Member of National Council of Confederation of the Indian Industry.
Recently, he has left the roles of Chairman of Indian Institute of Technology, Indore and as a member of the Central Board of Directors of the State Bank of India.
Ajay has been happily married to Swati Piramal and they have 2 children, Anand and Nandini Piramal. Recently, Anand Piramal has married Mukesh Ambani’s daughter, Isha Ambani. Both the families have had friendly relations in the past, hinting towards a childhood romance that all Indian gossip hubs have amplified.
Although Anand has come to inherit his father’s legacy, he’s seen to be fulfilling all the expectations the country has put on him as his father’s son. However, with an empire this big, scrutiny and speculations will always surround the young man as he tries to hold it all together.