Wadia jail term sinks group firms’ shares

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 01 May 2019

Mumbai: Shares of companies controlled by the 283-year-old Wadia Group tanked after news broke that group chairman Nusli Wadia’s son, Ness Wadia, had got a two-year prison term for possessing drugs during a skiing holiday in March in Japan.

Bed linen-maker Bombay Dyeing & Manufacturing Co Ltd plummeted as much as 17.6% during Mumbai trading – the most since November 2016 – while Bombay Burmah Trading Corp Ltd, which owns tea and cocoa plantations, slumped as much as 6.4%. National Peroxide Ltd had slid by 6.7% and Britannia Industries Ltd by 3.1%.

Wadia is a director on the board of all these companies.

A group spokesman clarified that the “suspended” jail term won’t restrain Wadia in discharging any of his responsibilities within the group and outside.

“Ness Wadia is in India. The judgment is clear. It is a suspended sentence,” the spokesman said over email.

The Financial Times reported yesterday that the 47-year-old scion of the family that controls the aviation-to-biscuits conglomerate had spent sometime in detention before his indictment on March 20 for possessing about 25 grams of a substance that resembled cannabis resin.

The Sapporo District Court had handed him a two-year prison sentence, which was suspended for five years, the report said.

Wadia, who’s also the co-owner of the Kings XI Punjab cricket league team, was arrested last month at the New Chitose Airport in Japan’s Hokkaido island after sniffer dogs alerted customs officials.

He is the elder son of Nusli Wadia, India’s 11th richest tycoon with a net worth of US$7.1bil, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The group traces its history to 1736 when it started with building ships for the East India Company before expanding into textiles, chemicals, plantations, consumer goods and aviation. — Reuters

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