Hindujas on multi-billion pound spending spree in Britain
Friday, 23 November 2007, 08:00 Hrs
London: The Hinduja brothers, whose global trading conglomerate once made them the richest men in Britain, plan to make Britain their core market and spend up to 2.5 billion pounds in acquiring assets that could include the FTSE 100 insurer Friends Provident. Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja, whose global interests span India, Britain, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, have recently hired Stefan Kosciuszko, former Schroders banker and chief executive of Anglo-Asian business Asia House, appointing him chief of staff of the Hinduja Group, a newspaper reported Friday. Kosciuszko, who is expected to advise the Indian-born billionaires in the financial, telecoms, industrial and healthcare sectors, will also act as chief executive officer of the project development unit, Amas-IPS, the Daily Telegraph reported. The paper said the Hinduja Group, which has little debt, could spend between 500 million and 2.5 billion pounds on making Britain their core market, while retaining their strong interests in India. "We are very keen to expand across a broad range of industries and are looking at Europe as well as the UK. But we are looking for intelligent investments and progressive growth," said Kosciuszko. Their British focus could be on the financial sector, with the group owning banks in India and Switzerland - and a specific target could be the insurance company Friends Provident. The paper said the group could also buy into the mobile phone market, having lost the bid for Hutchinson Essar to Vodafone earlier this year. "There is a clear intention that certain group companies be moved towards a listing in the UK and on other exchanges. But we will also look to our principal bankers," said Kosciuszko, who will also lead the group's expansion strategy in Southeast Asia. The Hinduja brothers moved to London in 1979, building up their father's trading business that began in Iran. Their business boomed during the height of the Margaret Thatcher years and leading politicians from all three British political parties - the Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats - queued up to court the Hinduja brothers. However, they came under a cloud in the late 1990s when then labour minister Peter Mandelson was accused of helping them to gain British citizenship in exchange for a one million pound donation to the now-scrapped Millennium Dome project.