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April 6, 2002 | 1300 IST
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Manu Chhabria passes away

The Rediff Money Team

Dubai-based NRI industrialist Manohar Rajaram Chhabria died in Mumbai on Saturday morning following a cardiac arrest.

Chairman of the $1.5 billion Jumbo Group, 56-year old Chhabria had recently undergone a bypass surgery at the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai.

He is survived by his wife and three daughters -- Komal Wazir, who is an executive director in his Indian flagship Shaw Wallace & Company Limited, Kiran Chhabria, executive director at Shaw Wallace, and Bhavika Godhwani.

The cremation will take place on Sunday at 10.00 am IST at Walkeshwar in Mumbai.

The liquor baron suffered a heart attack at 0915 IST in Jaslok Hospital in central Mumbai, where he was undergoing treatment since March 16 after the bypass surgery.

He came to India for the inauguration of Shaw Wallace Pro Am Open Golf Tournament. Chhabria could not travel to Delhi for the tournament in which his company will be investing Rs 500 million over the next five years in sponsorship money.

A diabetic and heart patient, Chhabria was taken ill after he landed in Mumbai. His heart condition worsened, following which he underwent a bypass surgery at Jaslok Hospital.

"After the surgery he was quite alright. His death was wholly unexpected, especially when he was recovering well," said Sunita Budhiraja, vice-president, corporate communications, Shaw Wallace.

A Harvard University business graduate, Chhabria established the Jumbo Group in Dubai in 1974. At present, the Jumbo Group, a transnational conglomerate with presence in 50 countries and employing over 20,000 people, claims to be the largest distributor of Sony products in the world besides being the largest distributor of consumer and professional electronics in the Arabian Gulf.

Chhabria also headed many Indian companies including liquor major Shaw Wallace. Besides Shaw Wallace, the Rs 75-billion Jumbo Group has a controlling stake in Indian entities such as, Dunlop India, Mather & Platt, Hindustan Dorr Oliver, Falcon Tyres, and Gordon Woodroffe. Of these, tyre-maker Dunlop is currently fighting a battle for survival.

Having risen from humble beginning in Mumbai selling radio parts, Chhabria migrated to Dubai from Mumbai 28 years ago. He raised a huge business empire, named Jumbo Group of Companies, and ran it from Al Salaam towers in Dubai. He shot to fame in the eighties and was known as a 'takeover tycoon'.

For the last few years, his companies like Dunlop and Shaw Wallace faced major liquidity credit problems. Dunlop is now a sick company and fighting for survival. He was also involved in a bruising court battle with his estranged brother Kishore Chhabria and United Breweries chairman Vijay Mallya. Later Kishore and Manu joined forces to fight Mallya.

"I will flood the country with my televisions," Manu Chhabria had said after the hostile Taliban government in Afghanistan was overthrown and a new, friendly regime installed in its place. He was referring to the Taliban diktat of banning televisions and the new government's intentions of removing all such restrictions. However, much before he could see his products take Afghanistan by a storm, Fate intervened.

Additional inputs: Agencies

'I don't regret Shaw Wallace investment'
Chhabria plans delisting of group firms
Manu Chhabria to sell SWC pie to strategic ally
Dunlop to import and sell Chinese tyres: Chhabria
'UBI is the biggest impediment to Dunlop's revival'
I want to patch up with Manu: Kishore Chhabria
Kishore renews open offer bid for Herbertsons
BIFR rejects Dunlop's revival package
The Rediff Budget Special

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