Birla makes sure the company is prepared for perpetuity by having a global presence across several businesses
The Birla surname has a long history that extends to before India’s independence. The phrase “Tata-Birla” has been used for decades to refer to India’s largest corporate entities. Over the course of several generations, the company was divided among several family branches, the largest of which is headed by Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, which has an annual turnover of 4.70 lakh crores. Birla, 55, is a fourth-generation family scion with $19.25 billion in personal wealth as of August 16. Included in this are $11.28 billion from publicly traded Indian corporations, $2.98 billion from privately held Indian companies, and $4.6 billion from privately held Indian enterprises.
Birla, a chartered accountant with an MBA from the London Firm School, took over the family business from his late father Aditya Vikram Birla when he was only 28 years old. The main uncertainty at the time was how the young Birla would run the kingdom. By increasing the company’s revenue from $2 billion in the past to $60 billion in the present, he has disproved the fears. He became known as India’s commodity king by making investments across industries and regions, helped in part by the positive effects of the end of the license raj and the opening up of the economy. When his father, Aditya Birla, decided to expand the company into the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia in1970s, the corporation had already begun its international expansion. The acquisition of US-Canadian aluminum giant Novelis by Kumar Birla in 2007 advanced the global strategy. Aleris, a company based in the US, was purchased by Novelis for $2.8 billion in 2020. Novelis is now a division of Hindalco Industries. The Aditya Birla Group now has operations in 36 nations, spanning industries as diverse as textiles, carbon black, aluminum, chemicals, pulp, and fiber. Additionally, he runs Ultratech, the biggest cement producer in India. The largest manufacturer and recycler of flat-rolled products in the world is Hindalco Industries, the group’s metals flagship company. However, the telecom industry has recently presented challenges for the billionaire. Due to a loss in market share, The Aditya Birla Group’s telecom business, Vodafone Idea, has been making significant losses for years. In place of paying statutory dues, the Union government was forced to purchase an interest in the business. After receiving a new lease on life, Vodafone Idea submitted a bid for radio spectrum in the 3300MHz and 26GHz bands valued at 18,799 crores in the just-completed 5G spectrum auctions. Despite being the lowest bidder among telecoms, the spectrum would allow it to compete with Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel in the provision of 5G services. With the purchase of Holcim’s stake in Ambuja Cements and ACC, the Adani group entered the cement industry. This could present another challenge in the future. After Birla-owned Ultratech, the Adani group is now India’s second-largest cement producer. By FY2025, Birla, who also made a bid for Holcim, plans to increase Ultratech’s capacity by 22.6 million tonnes, to 159.25 million tonnes, with a capital investment of 12,886 crores. Birla resides on Billionaire’s Row, widely known as Mumbai’s Altamount Road. Wife Neerja is the founder and chairperson of Mpower, which promotes mental health awareness because it has become so important after the epidemic. The 30,000 square foot, seafront Jatia House was also purchased by Birla. After a day-long auction, the property, Malabar Hill sold for 425 crores, making it one of India’s largest real estate transactions. Additionally, he has a bungalow on Delhi’s exclusive Amrita Shergill Marg. He is the owner of a Gulfstream G100 and a Cessna Citation.
Though investments in the education industry are still a priority for Birla in the meanwhile, as has been the family custom. He is the chancellor of BITS Pilani, which just inaugurated the BITS School of Management in Mumbai. The current most successful Birla is Kumar Mangalam Birla, who established a jute mill in Kolkata to continue the family’s long-standing heritage that his great-grandfather Ghanshyam Das Birla began more than a century ago.