big pharma

How to make and break a fortune in 10 years: The rise and steep fall of Ranbaxy’s Singh brothers

It’s been a downhill journey for the former Ranbaxy promoters since they sold their stake in the drug maker in 2008.

Just 10 years ago, they were the poster boys of India’s booming pharmaceutical industry. Fame peaked for Malvinder Mohan Singh and Shivinder Mohan Singh in 2008 when they sold their stake in generic drug maker Ranbaxy to Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo for a whopping $2.4 billion. It’s only gone downhill from there.

Late last month, Bloomberg reported that the Singh brothers have been taken to Delhi High Court by a New York investor. The promoters of financial services firm Religare Enterprises allegedly siphoned some $300 million to their privately-held firms. They are also alleged to have funnelled out $78 million from hospital chain Fortis Healthcare.

This follows the High Court order for the Singhs to cough up Rs 3,500 crore to Daiichi Sankyo for allegedly luring the Japanese drug maker into a deal by withholding information.

On February 8, the billionaire brothers stepped down from the Fortis Healthcare board, which reportedly decided to distance itself from the promoters’ legal battles as they were hurting the firm’s performance. Besides, banks were hesitant to extend even working capital loans to a company associated with the brothers.

In November 2017, Malvinder stepped down from Religare Enterprises – and both he and Shivinder exited the board, making way for a professional management.

The Ranbaxy saga

Ranbaxy in some ways embodied the success of India’s generic drugs industry. Valued at $4.6 billion at the time of its sale in 2008, the company was not just a Singh family jewel, it was India’s moment of reckoning on the global pharma stage.

The story began in pre-independence India in Amritsar, Punjab. Ranbaxy got its name from two cousins, Ranjit and Gurbax, who started a drug distribution firm in 1937. However, after failing to repay a loan, they had to forego their company in 1947 to a businessman, Bhai Mohan Singh, who had come to Delhi from Rawalpindi in Pakistan following Partition.

Under Bhai Mohan, the company launched its first blockbuster drug, Calmpose, in 1961. His son, Parvinder Singh, took the company abroad, setting up plants outside India. Following Parvinder’s death in 2000, Malvinder and Shivinder expanded the horizons beyond pharmaceuticals. Shivinder was still in his first year of MBA, at Duke University in the US, when his father succumbed to cancer.

Parvinder’s brother, Analjit, is a billionaire investor who owns the Max group that runs businesses spanning from hospitals to insurance to real estate. Analjit also owned Vodafone’s India subsidiary until 2014, right around the time the telecom industry went into a spiral in India.

An uncanny knack to exit businesses at just the right time seems to run in the family.

Malvinder and Shivinder, too, sold Ranbaxy at its peak. Just days after the deal, Daiichi got a rude shock from the US drug regulator in the form of an import ban on Ranbaxy, citing poor quality of its drugs. Daiichi sued the Singh brothers in 2013 and sold Ranbaxy to Sun Pharma in 2014. By then, though, the Japanese company had lost Rs 6,000 crore, according to one estimate.

The Singhs’ downward spiral may have begun after the Daiichi deal, but they had kicked up enough dust even on their way up. From a whistleblower’s account that led to the US ban to the brothers’ alleged connection with the Clintons, they seemed to tide over all headwinds.

But then, that was 10 years ago.

The Singh brothers have now appealed in the Indian Supreme Court against the High Court verdict favouring Daiichi. They might fight back other charges, too, and the final word may be a few years away. But the stain on their success story is here to stay. The alleged siphoning of funds, in particular, may lead to a wider probe. Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India is already examining the issue.

Once renowned for their business acumen and deal-making skills, the Singh brothers today are being subject to scrutiny and litigation, besides derision, in the companies they once owned.

This article first appeared on Quartz.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Why do our clothes fade, tear and lose their sheen?

From purchase to the back of the wardrobe – the life-cycle of a piece of clothing.

It’s an oft repeated story - shiny new dresses and smart blazers are bought with much enthusiasm, only to end up at the back of the wardrobe, frayed, faded or misshapen. From the moment of purchase, clothes are subject to wear and tear caused by nature, manmade chemicals and....human mishandling.

Just the act of wearing clothes is enough for gradual erosion. Some bodily functions aren’t too kind on certain fabrics. Sweat - made of trace amounts of minerals, lactic acid and urea - may seem harmless. But when combined with bacteria, it can weaken and discolour clothes over time. And if you think this is something you can remedy with an antiperspirant, you’ll just make matters worse. The chemical cocktail in deodorants and antiperspirants leads to those stubborn yellowish stains that don’t yield to multiple wash cycles or scrubbing sessions. Linen, rayon, cotton and synthetic blends are especially vulnerable.

Add to that, sun exposure. Though a reliable dryer and disinfectant, the UV radiation from the sun causes clothes to fade. You needn’t even dry your clothes out in the sun; walking outside on a sunny day is enough for your clothes to gradually fade.

And then there’s what we do to our clothes when we’re not wearing them - ignoring labels, forgetting to segregate while washing and maintaining improper storage habits. You think you know how to hang a sweater? Not if you hang it just like all your shirts - gravity stretches out the neck and shoulders of heavier clothing. Shielding your clothes by leaving them in the dry-cleaning bag? You just trapped them in humidity and foul odour. Fabrics need to breathe, so they shouldn’t be languishing in plastic bags. Tossing workout clothes into the laundry bag first thing after returning home? It’s why the odour stays. Excessive moisture boosts fungal growth, so these clothes need to be hung out to dry first. Every day, a whole host of such actions unleash immense wear and tear on our clothes.

Clothes encounter maximum resistance in the wash; it’s the biggest factor behind premature degeneration of clothes. Wash sessions that don’t adhere to the rules of fabric care have a harsh impact on clothes. For starters, extra effort often backfires. Using more detergent than is indicated may seem reasonable for a tub full of soiled clothes, but it actually adds to their erosion. Aggressive scrubbing, too, is counterproductive as it worsens stains. And most clothes can be worn a few times before being put in the wash, unless of course they are sweat-soaked gym clothes. Daily washing of regulars exposes them to too much friction, hastening their wear and tear.

Different fabrics react differently to these abrasive agents. Natural fabrics include cotton, wool, silk and linen and each has distinct care requirements. Synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, are sensitive to heat and oil.

A little bit of conscious effort will help your clothes survive for longer. You can start by lessening the forces acting on the clothes while washing. Sort your clothes by fabric instead of colour while loading them in the washing machine. This helps save lighter fabrics from the friction of rubbing against heavier ones. It’s best to wash denim materials separately as they are quite coarse. For the same reason, clothes should be unzipped and buttoned before being tossed in the washing machine. Turning jeans, printed clothes and shirts inside out while loading will also ensure any abrasion is limited to the inner layers only. Avoid overloading the washing machine to reduce friction between the clothes.

Your choice of washing tools also makes a huge difference. Invest in a gentler detergent, devoid of excessive dyes, perfumes and other unnecessary chemicals. If you prefer a washing machine for its convenience, you needn’t worry anymore. The latest washing machines are far gentler, and even equipped to handle delicate clothing with minimal wear and tear.

Bosch’s range of top loading washing machines, for example, care for your everyday wear to ensure they look as good as new over time. The machines make use of the PowerWave Wash System to retain the quality of the fabrics. The WaveDrum movement adds a top-down motion to the regular round action for a thorough cleaning, while the dynamic water flow reduces the friction and pulling forces on the clothes.


The intelligent system also creates water displacement for better movement of clothes, resulting in lesser tangles and clothes that retain their shape for longer. These wash cycles are also noiseless and more energy efficient as the motor is directly attached to the tub to reduce overall friction. Bosch’s top loading washing machines take the guesswork away from setting of controls by automatically choosing the right wash program based on the load. All that’s needed is a one-touch start for a wash cycle that’s free of human errors. Read more about the range here. You can also follow Bosch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.