Ajay Piramal

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Ajay Piramal
Ajay Piramal at Horasis Global India Business Meeting 2014 crop.jpg
Ajay Piramal speaking at the Horasis Global India Business Meeting in Liverpool, June 2014
Born (1955-08-03) 3 August 1955 (age 63)
Bagar, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, India
ResidenceMumbai, Maharashtra, India
EducationUniversity of Mumbai
Net worthUS$4.60 billion (March 2019) [1]
TitleChairman of Piramal Group and Shriram Group
Spouse(s)Swati Piramal
  • Gopikisan Piramal (father)
  • Lalita Piramal (mother)

Ajay Piramal (born 3 August 1955) is an Indian billionaire industrialist, and the chairman of the Piramal Group, a conglomerate with interests in pharmaceutical, financial services, real estate, healthcare analytics and glass packaging.

Apart from India, the Piramal Group has presence in over 30 countries, including the US, the UK, the European Union, Japan, Asia-Pacific and South Asia, with its products being sold in over 100 markets.[2]

In 2010, the Company sold the domestic formulation business to Abbott Laboratories for US$3.8 billion.[3] Following that, Piramal Enterprises (then Piramal Healthcare), the flagship company of Piramal Group, has 3 major businesses – Pharma, Financial Services and Healthcare Insights & Analytics. In Pharma, the company focuses on over-the-counter (OTC) consumer products, global generics, contract manufacturing and critical care business. The financial services business—includes alternative asset management and investments into the Shriram Group as well as Piramal Capital & Housing Finance which is a registered as a housing finance company with the National Housing Bank (NHB) and is engaged in various financial services businesses.[4][5]

The market capitalisation of Piramal Enterprises has grown four-fold in the last seven years, from an average of around Rs 10,000 crore in 2010-11, it has been moving around Rs 45,000 crore in April 2018.[6]

PEL is listed on the BSE Limited and the National Stock Exchange of India Limited.[7]

The second component of the group’s real estate strategy involves property development through the unlisted Piramal Realty Private Limited, founded by Piramal's son Anand.[8]

Incorporated in 1974, Piramal Glass Limited (PGL, erstwhile Gujarat Glass Limited) was acquired by the Piramal Group in 1984. In 1990, it was merged with Piramal Healthcare Limited (PHL, erstwhile Nicholas Piramal India Limited), and in 1998, the glass division was spun off to a subsidiary. The Company is engaged in the business of manufacturing packaging solutions for the perfumery and pharmaceuticals.[9]

Under Piramal's leadership, the Piramal Group transformed from a textile-centric business into a US$10 billion conglomerate.[10] The current headcount of the group is 14,500.[11]

Early life[edit]

Ajay Piramal was born to Gopikisan Piramal and Lalita Piramal in Rajasthan, India on August 3, 1955. In 1977, at age 22, Piramal started out in his family's textile business, founded in 1934 by his grandfather Piramal Chatrabhuj. His father, Gopikisan Piramal, died suddenly in 1979, and after five years he lost an older brother to cancer, prompting him to take over the business reins.[12]

Business career[edit]

Crippling and violent strikes that started in 1982 had brought the textile industry to its knees. There were 7,000 employees in the textiles business. In 1986 Piramal walked out to a meeting with 4,000 workers, with a suggestion that workers accept a separation package, as the business was being wound down.[6]

In 1988, he bought Nicholas Laboratories, an Australian multinational corporation. The company, which then competed with the likes of MNCs such as Pfizer and Glaxo, is now ranked fifth among the top 10 pharma companies in India, having made a string of overseas acquisitions like the Indian subsidiaries of Roche, Boehringer Mannheim, Rhone Poulenc, ICI and Hoechst Research Centre. India’s first major shopping mall, Crossroads, was developed from three redundant Piramal factory buildings in Mumbai.[13]

He led Piramal Enterprises Ltd invested in Vodafone India by buying 11% in two tranches. The first 5.5%, was bought in 2011 for Rs 2,856 crore and the second, the next year for Rs 3,007 crore. to buy a 5.5% stake in Vodafone India for INR 30.07 billion ($618 million), taking the total stake to 11%.[6] In April 2014, Piramal Enterprises Ltd. sold its 11% stake for INR 8,900 crore, at a 51.78% premium to the price the company had paid in 2011-12.[14]

After selling his stake in Vodafone India, Piramal paid INR 2,014 crore to buy a 20% stake in Shriram Capital Ltd., an arm of the Chennai-based Shriram Group. The purchase was made in addition to INR 1,636 crore investment in Shriram Transport Finance Co. Ltd. for a 9.9% stake.[15] Piramal also serves as the Chairman of Shriram Group.[16]

Directorships and board memberships[edit]

  • Chairman, Piramal Group[17]
  • Chairman, Shriram Group[18]
  • Non-Executive Director, Tata Sons Ltd[19]
  • Member, Board of Dean’s Advisors, Harvard Business School[20]
  • President and Chairman of the Governing Body, Anant National University[21]
  • Chairman, Pratham Education Foundation[21][22]
  • Member of National Council of Confederation of the Indian Industry (CII)
  • Co-Chair, UK-India CEO Forum
  • Member of the Honorable Prime Minister’s Council for Trade & Industry and the Board of Trade constituted by the Ministry of Commerce
  • Member of the Honorable Prime Minister’s Task Force on Pharmaceuticals and Knowledge-Based Industries
  • Member, Central Board of State Bank of India[23]
  • Invitee to the World Economic Forum for the last 20 years[24]
  • Former Chairman, Indian Institute of Technology, Indore[25]

Former positions[edit]

  • Member, Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Task Force on Pharmaceuticals & Knowledge-Based Industries constituted by the Government of India.[26]
  • Member, Hon’ble Prime Minister's Council for Trade & Industry.[27]
  • Member, Board of Trade Constituted by the Ministry of Commerce.[28]
  • Member, Central board of directors of State Bank of India – India's largest commercial bank and is included in the "Fortune 500" companies;[29]
  • Member of National Council of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which is one of the largest industry associations in India.[29]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • Business Leader of the Year Award, 2018, International Advertising Association Leadership Awards[30]
  • Special Achievement Award, Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards (APEA) 2018[31]
  • CNBC Asia’s India Business Leader of the Year Award, 2018[32]
  • CNBC Asia Business Leader of the Year Award, 2017[33]
  • Corporate Citizen of the Year award by AIMA Managing India Awards in 2016[34]
  • SEN Sustainability Award – Philanthropy and Best of Best - instituted by World Presidents’ Organisation (2015)[35]
  • Business Leader of the Year 2015, by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce[36]
  • Outstanding Philanthropist 2013 and 2014, Forbes Philanthropy Awards[37]
  • Kriyasheel Global Achievers Award (2010)[38]
  • India Innovator of the Year 2008 awarded by CNBC TV 18[39]
  • Entrepreneur of the Year' Award of UK Trade and Investment Council in 2006[40]
  • Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Healthcare and Life Sciences category in 2004[41]
  • Business Leader Award" in Pharma Sector at the CHEMTECH PHARMABIO AWARD (2004);[42]
  • Life Time Achievement Award" by The Rotary Club of Mumbai Mid-Town (2004)[43]
  • Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum (2004)[44]
  • Rotary International (District 3140) Certificate of Appreciation and “Four Way Test Award” in 2001 [45]
  • CEO of the Year Award’ by World Strategy Forum (1999)[46]


Piramal holds a bachelor's degree in Science from the Jai Hind College and Basantsingh Institute of Science, University of Mumbai (then Bombay), a master's degree in management studies from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, University of Mumbai, and in 1992 attended the six-week Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School.[47][48] Piramal has received an honorary doctorate by Amity University, India[49] and Honorary Doctor of Science from IIT Indore[50]


Piramal is a regular at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Racecourse. He can often be seen walking here, with his grandchildren (daughter Nandini’s son and daughter). He owns many horses. And on a rare occasion, he still rides one, especially if egged on by the children. He was once the youngest president of the Amateur Riders Club near the race course in southern Mumbai.[51]

In his spare time, Piramal pursues his passion for wildlife photography. He has also co-authored 'Light has come to me', a book about management lessons inspired from The Bhagwad Gita, published by the Times Group. He has also written a dance opera, ‘The Dance of Life’, which premiered in Mumbai in 2004, with stories inspired by the history of Indian science starring Mrinalini Sarabhai and Mallika Sarabhai.[52]

Piramal and his wife Swati opened the Piramal Museum of Art in November to showcase their art collection as well as that of other collectors. Their private art collection has 600 art works straddling 300 years of Indian art history from the colonial times to the more modern works by M. F. Husain and S. H. Raza. The collection also has Persian miniatures dating back to the 16th century.[53]


Piramal finances the Piramal Foundation.[54] The foundation is quoted as taking about 10-15% of his time.[55]

The Piramal Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Piramal Group. It states that it develops innovative, replicable and impact-oriented solutions to resolve issues that are critical roadblocks towards unlocking India’s economic potential. The Group’s core values of ‘Knowledge, Action, Care and Impact’, guide the organisation in carrying out its responsibilities towards society.[56]

The Piramal Foundation has initiatives across Health, Education and Safe Drinking Water, namely Piramal Swasthya,[57] Piramal Foundation for Education Leadership[58] and Piramal Sarvajal,[59] respectively.

The Piramal Foundation has partnered with the NITI Aayog, to transform 25 ‘Aspirational Districts’ across 7 states in India[60]

The Foundation currently works across 21 states and has impacted over 90 million lives, mostly in partnership with state governments. It has developed innovative approaches and programmes and has built strong partnerships with governments, technology partners and international organisations including Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Harvard Graduate School of Education and World Diabetes Foundation.[61]

Other CSR initiatives[edit]

Piramal is among the Advisory Committee Members of Annamrita, ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (IFRF)[62] that serves 1.2 million meals through its 20 kitchens across India every day.[63] Piramal’s goal for this project is to scale it up several fold and to take it to a level of giving meals to a million children every day in the state of Maharashtra.

Personal life[edit]

In December 2018, his son married Isha Ambani, daughter of world's 19th wealthiest person at that time. The wedding cost was estimated at up to $100 million,[64] making it the one of the 5 most expensive weddings in history. Many international artists from Hollywood and Bollywood either performed or were guests, including Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Alia Bhatt, Beyonce, Aishwarya Rai and Amitabh Bachchan.[65]


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  44. ^ "Global leader of tomorrow" (PDF). Ashstevens.
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  46. ^ "CEO of the year award". Bloomberg.
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  65. ^ "Inside Isha Ambani's pre-wedding festivities: Deepika-Ranveer pose for a selfie with Aishwarya". indianexpress.com. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.

External links[edit]