Kamalnayan Bajaj - page 44

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KamalnayanBajaj –Architect of theBajajGroup
Just howBajaj Auto came tofight Piaggio in an
American court is as bizarre as it gets. The backstory
beginswithAntonella, EnricoPiaggio’s adopted
daughter and only child.WhenEnricodied in 1965,
control of the scooter company passed toher husband,
UmbertoAgnelli, not toher. They divorced in 1974.
Piaggiobecame part of theAgnelli empire. There’s not
muchdifference between Indian and Italianbusiness
dynastieswherewomen are concerned. In the initial
years of his inherited chairmanship,Umberto kept the
status quo at Piaggio.Gainingmore confidence by the
late 1960s, he began to appoint newmembers to the
board of directors.
Piaggio’s technical collaborationwithBajaj Auto
ended onApril 1, 1971. Piaggiowrote toKamalnayan,
thanking him for years of “really friendly cooperation”
andwishingBajaj Auto “themost successful future”.
Nine years later, the Italians accusedBajaj Auto in
aCaliforniandistrict court of violating the terms of
their collaboration, of not returningPiaggio’s original
drawings, henceBajaj hadno right tomanufacture
scooters. Piaggio’smovewas probably a knee-jerk
reaction toBajaj’s export thrust in the late 1970s.
The great scooterwar ended on awhimper. In the
USA, Piaggio offered an out of-court settlement. The
millions of dollars compensationdemandwas scaled
down to $50,000. Bajaj refused tobudge and in the final
settlement, promised only tonot sell Bajaj scooters of
Piaggiodesign in theUS. By then therewas nodemand
for the scooters in theUS anyway. InGermany,
Bajaj Auto lost in the lower courts but won in the
supreme court.
Some analysts felt the drama, expensive as it was, was a
blessing indisguise. “WithRahul’s tough anddisciplined
approach, the company soon found its footing in the
market andBajaj Chetak andSuper became legends,”
said one commentator.
Rahul on the1millionthBajaj Chetakc1990
Brandishinga red flag in theUSA
Thegreat scooterwar
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