Timeline: How two feuding Indian brothers squandered their pharma empire

More than sibling rivalry.
More than sibling rivalry.
Image: AP Photo/Gurinder Osan
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India’s famed Singh brothers are embroiled in a fresh feud.

The elder of the duo, Malvinder Singh, has reportedly filed a criminal complaint against his brother Shivinder, with whom he once ran the pharmaceutical giant Ranbaxy Laboratories.

In the complaint registered with the economic offences wing of the Delhi Police, Malvinder claims that Shivinder, Gurinder Singh Dhillon—the spiritual head of the Radha Soami Satsang—and others committed financial fraud and sent him death threats. The complaint also seeks Rs8,742 crore ($1.2 billion) as compensation.

According to the complaint, Shivinder manipulated finances with aspirations of earning the status of a spiritual head within Dhillon’s organisation.

Prior to this quagmire, there was a time the Singh brothers were counted among India’s most revered entrepreneurs. Since then, though, they have allegedly squandered Rs22,500 crore, stepped away from Fortis Healthcare–once the country’s largest hospital chain–and given up their stake in one of the largest non-banking financial companies, Religare Enterprises.

Below is a timeline of how the Singh brothers’ power unravelled:

2008: In June, Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo acquires a 34.8% stake in Ranbaxy at a valuation of $2.4 billion. Then, in November, marking one of India’s biggest acquisitions, Daiichi Sankyo completes the takeover of Ranbaxy from the founding Singh family in a deal worth $4.6 billion. It ends up with a 64% stake in the company.

September 2009: The US Food and Drug Administration bans a slew of Ranbaxy drugs from the US, citing manufacturing deficiencies discovered at several plants in India.

May 2013: The brother-duo pleads guilty to selling adulterated drugs with intent to defraud, failing to report that drugs didn’t meet specifications, and making intentionally false statements to the government before a US court. They agree to pay $500 million in fines and penalties.

December 2013: US inspectors find a human hair embedded in a tablet in Ranbaxy’s plant in Mohali, Punjab. An “import alert” is issued until all its methods, facilities, and controls are in compliance.

April 2014: Daiichi Sankyo sells the India unit of Ranbaxy to homegrown firm Sun Pharmaceutical Industries in an all-stock transaction at an enterprise value of $4 billion. The company is delisted from Indian stock exchanges.

May 2016: The Singapore International Arbitration Centre orders the Singh brothers to pay $500 million for concealing information when Ranbaxy’s shares were sold to Daiichi back in 2008. The authority slaps a Rs 2,563 crore fine on the brothers. They challenge this ruling.

January 2018: The Japanese company moves the Delhi high court to enforce the arbitration award announced by the Singapore tribunal. Meanwhile, the brothers are accused of siphoning off money from a New York-based investor. They allegedly took 21 loans for a number of seemingly independent companies to then route at least $300 million back to privately held Singh firms on the same day.

February 2018: The Delhi high court rules in favour of Daiichi Sankyo, asks Singh brothers to pay up Rs3,500 crore–up from 2016’s Rs2,500 crore-plus figure because of the added interest and legal fees.

The founder-director duo quit Fortis Healthcare amid the unending legal battle with Daiichi. They stepped down from the board of financial services firm Religare Enterprises for the same reason.

March 2018: Daiichi Sankyo asks the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe allegations that Malvinder and Shivinder siphoned money off Fortis Healthcare and Religare Enterprises.

September 2018: Shivinder formally dissociates himself (paywall) from his brother and former chairman of Religare Enterprises, Sunil Godhwani. He then drags them to India’s quasi-court for corporates—filing a petition before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)—alleging that decisions by Malvinder and Godhwani led to a systemic undermining of the interests of the companies and their shareholders.

However,  the same month, Shivinder withdraws the petition at his mother’s behest.

December 2018: In a video, Malvinder accuses Shivinder of assaulting him.

A few weeks on, Religare Enterprises files a criminal complaint with the Delhi Police’s economic offences wing against Malvinder, Shivinder and Godhwani, for cheating, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, fraud and forgery and criminal conspiracy.