Ajay Piramal (born 3 August 1955) is an Indian billionaire industrialist, and the chairman of the Piramal Group, a conglomerate with interests in pharmaceutical, financial services, real estate, healthcare analytics and glass packaging. Piramal Enterprises has 3 major businesses – Pharma, Financial Services and Healthcare Insights & Analytics.
Early life and education
Ajay Piramal was born to Gopikisan Piramal and Lalita Piramal in Rajasthan, India on 3 August 1955. In 1977, at age 22, Piramal started out in his family’s textile business, founded in 1934 by his grandfather Piramal Chatrabhuj. His father, Gopikisan Piramal, died in 1979, and after five years he lost an older brother to cancer, prompting him to take over the business.
Piramal holds a bachelor’s degree in Science from the Jai Hind College and Basantsingh Institute of Science, University of Mumbai (then Bombay), a master’s degree in management studies from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, University of Mumbai, and in 1992 attended the six-week Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School. Piramal has received an honorary doctorate by Amity University, India and Honorary Doctor of Science from IIT Indore
In 1988, Piramal bought Nicholas Laboratories, an Australian multinational corporation. The company is now ranked fifth among pharma companies in India, having made a string of overseas acquisitions like the Indian subsidiaries of Roche, Boehringer Mannheim, Rhone Poulenc, ICI and Hoechst Research Centre. India’s first major shopping mall, Crossroads, was developed from three redundant Piramal factory buildings in Mumbai.
He led Piramal Enterprises Ltd invested in Vodafone India by buying 11% in two tranches. The first 5.5%, was bought in 2011 for Rs 2,856 crore and the second, the next year for Rs 3,007 crore. to buy a 5.5% stake in Vodafone India for INR 30.07 billion ($618 million), taking the total stake to 11%. In April 2014, Piramal Enterprises Ltd. sold its 11% stake for INR 8,900 crore, at a 51.78% premium to the price the company had paid in 2011–12.
After selling his stake in Vodafone India, Piramal paid INR 2,014 crore to buy a 20% stake in Shriram Capital Ltd., an arm of the Chennai-based Shriram Group. The purchase was made in addition to INR 1,636 crore investment in Shriram Transport Finance Co. Ltd. for a 9.9% stake. Piramal also serves as the Chairman of Shriram Group.
Piramal announced in 2019 he planned to resign as chairman of Shriram Capital Ltd. He was named chairman five years earlier.
Directorships and board memberships
- Chairman, Piramal Group
- Non-Executive Director, Tata Sons Ltd
- Member, Board of Dean’s Advisors, Harvard Business School
- President and Chairman of the Governing Body, Anant National University
- Chairman, Pratham Education Foundation
- Member of National Council of Confederation of the Indian Industry (CII)
- Co-Chair, UK-India CEO Forum
- Member of the Honorable Prime Minister’s Council for Trade & Industry and the Board of Trade constituted by the Ministry of Commerce
- Member of the Honorable Prime Minister’s Task Force on Pharmaceuticals and Knowledge-Based Industries
- Member, Central Board of State Bank of India
- Invitee to the World Economic Forum for the last 20 years
- Former Chairman, Indian Institute of Technology, Indore
- Member, Central board of directors of State Bank of India.
Awards and honours
- Business Leader of the Year Award, 2018, International Advertising Association Leadership Awards
- Special Achievement Award, Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards (APEA) 2018
- CNBC Asia’s India Business Leader of the Year Award, 2018
- CNBC Asia Business Leader of the Year Award, 2017
- Corporate Citizen of the Year award by AIMA Managing India Awards in 2016
- SEN Sustainability Award – Philanthropy and Best of Best – instituted by World Presidents’ Organisation (2015)
- Business Leader of the Year 2015, by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce
- Outstanding Philanthropist 2013 and 2014, Forbes Philanthropy Awards
- Kriyasheel Global Achievers Award (2010)
- India Innovator of the Year 2008 awarded by CNBC TV 18
- Entrepreneur of the Year’ Award of UK Trade and Investment Council in 2006
- Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Healthcare and Life Sciences category in 2004
- “Business Leader Award” in Pharma Sector at the CHEMTECH PHARMABIO AWARD (2004)
- “Life Time Achievement Award” by The Rotary Club of Mumbai Mid-Town (2004)
- Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum (2004)
- Rotary International (District 3140) Certificate of Appreciation and “Four Way Test Award” in 2001
- CEO of the Year Award’ by World Strategy Forum (1999)
Piramal finances the Piramal Foundation. The foundation is quoted as taking about 10–15% of his time. The Piramal Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Piramal Group.
The Piramal Foundation has initiatives across Health, Education and Safe Drinking Water, namely Piramal Swasthya, Piramal Foundation for Education Leadership and Piramal Sarvajal, respectively. The Foundation works across 21 states in India, mostly in partnership with state governments.
Piramal is among the Advisory Committee Members of Annamrita, ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (IFRF) that serves 1.2 million meals through its 20 kitchens across India every day.
Ajay Piramal is married to Swati Piramal. He has a daughter, Nandini Piramal, and a son, Anand Piramal. The family considers Radhanath Swami their family-guru.