The hospitality chain Leela Group chairman C P Krishnan Nair, who is set to retire from active management this June, on Monday said he will consider partnering Mukesh Ambani if there are hostile takeover threats from rival ITC.
"If at all, there is a threat from ITC, Mukesh is available...If at any point of time I want (a partner), Mukesh will be my ideal partner," Nair said.
He was responding to a query if the Leela Group was uncomfortable with ITC gradually increasing stake in his firm. ITC has been slowly increasing its stake in Hotel Leelaventure Ltd.
As of the quarter ended December 2010, ITC and its investment arm Russell Credit Ltd together hold 11.7 per cent stake in the company. Nair said that while the Leela Group did not expect ITC to make any attempt for a hostile bid, "you never know in the corporate relationships".
In such a scenario, friends will come to help, he said, highlighting the personal relationship that the promoter Nair family has with senior Ambani.
Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries had last year picked up 14.80 per cent stake in EIH Ltd that runs the Oberoi and Trident brands of hotels and resorts.
On his succession plans, Nair---the 90-year-old hospitality veteran--- said he will be retiring from active management by June and his sons Vivek and Dinesh will be elevated. "My son Vivek will take over as the Chairman and I will become the Chairman Emeritus. The younger son Dinesh will be the Managing Director. This will be put up for shareholders' approval at the Annual General Meeting of the company to be held in June," he said.
At present, Vivek Nair is the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, while Dinesh Nair is the Joint Managing Director of the company. The Nair family will together continue to run Leela and even the third generation will join the business, he added.
"I have already put my will in place. The family will continue to run the business together. My sons will have equal stake in the company and if at all, any one of them wants to exit, then the first right to buy the stake will be with the other," he said.
Nair also said that his grandchildren were already involved in the business and they would be elevated to the level of Executive Directors when the change of guard takes place in June this year.