Shriram, an eminent industrialist based in Delhi and hailing from a prestigious
business family died on May 17, 2021 at the age of 76 due to covid related
complications. He was admitted to Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon for treatment.
golfer, a sugar baron, a maker of sewing machines and home appliances under the
Usha brand, he was also into automotive business, serving as the chairman of
Honda Siel Cars India (HSCI) for several years. His company also had a joint
venture with Honda of Japan in Honda Siel Power Products. Honda will definitely
miss this gentleman whose company actually hand held it into entering India and
allowing it to establish itself here.
an auto journalist, I have had several occasions in the distant past to
interact with Mr Shriram. He was suave, sophisticated, cultured and extremely
polite. It was the post liberalisation era (post 1991) that saw several foreign
auto companies setting up base in India through joint ventures with established
Indian companies. That was the norm and all investments had to be cleared by
the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), a body which has been done away
Automobiles, Telco (now Tata Motors), Mahindra & Mahindra, Hindustan Motors
and the CK Birla Group, you name it each one of them had grabbed a foreign vehicle
manufacturer to start the vehicle business in India. Premier Automobiles went in with Fiat as well
as Peugeot, Telco went in with the Daimler group, Mahindra went in with Ford, HM with General Motors, and so on and so
forth. Hyundai came in through a 100 per cent subsidiary in India, while Toyota
partnered with the Kirloskar group of South India. The Siddharth Shriram Group
opted for Honda Motor Company of Japan.
HONDA SIEL CARS
INDIA LIMITED: HSCI was incorporated
on December 5, 1995 and was a joint venture between Honda Motor Company, Japan and SIEL, a Siddhartha Shriram Group of Companies.
SIEL stood for Shriram Industrial Enterprises Ltd. Interestingly, the original
joint venture between the two companies was proposed to be a 60:40 equity
structure with Honda having the majority stake. However, in 1998 the FIPB
cleared the project increasing the equity of Honda Motors in the joint venture
from 90% to 95 %. Honda Motors increased its stake in the company by infusing Rs
180 crore to double the company's equity base. With this, the buy back option
of the Indian partner shrunk to 15 % from the 30 % it had offloaded earlier in favour
of Honda. Eventually, Siel was left with only a 5 % stake in the joint venture.
This too shrunk to 3.16 per cent after Honda increased the equity base with
more infusion of funds from its part.
2012, Siddhart Shriram offloaded his entire 3.16 per cent equity stake in Honda
Siel Cars India to its Japanese partner Honda at around Rs 180 crore. The
company was rechristened Honda Cars India Ltd. Honda currently has a factory in
Greater Noida in the state of Uttar Pradesh and one in Tapukara in the state of
Shriram will be remembered in the Indian auto industry not merely as the Chairman
of Mawana Sugars or Chairman of Usha International but as the non interfering
Chairman of Honda Siel Cars India. At the several press conferences held by
HSCIL prior to 2012, Shriram would always be there accompany the top Honda
brass, sharing the dais with them. He
would also pose with the new vehicle being launched along with the Managing
Director and other senior officials of the company. Honda accorded him deep
respect, even though his company was a minority shareholder in the HSCI.
he would refuse to comment on the progress of HSCI, asking us to direct all
questions to the Honda officials, he would gladly answer questions pertaining
to the economy or any government policy. He would be polite, graceful and
Shriram was born on January 18, 1945 and did his schooling from Welhem School
and the Doon School at Dehradun. He graduated in English Literature from the
prestigious St. Stephens College, Delhi University. He was also a Sloan Fellow
at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.
August 2012, when Usha International and Honda Motor Company signed an
agreement to end the joint venture, the former stated, “Usha feels that it was
inevitable that someday the parting would come because automobiles are not
really Usha’s direct business.”
While expressing appreciation for the support
of the Indian partner, the then HSCI president and chief executive officer
Hironori Kanayama had stated, “We have shared a very successful and fruitful
relationship with UIL over the past 17 years.” The parting was bereft of any
acrimony or distrust. With Siddharth Shriram’s demise, Honda will miss a man
they were immensely fond of.