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We've benefitted being nice to firms: Ashalata & Jitendra Prakash Maheshwari

 
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The Economic Times
04 August 2015

Muralidhar Maheshwari, a civil lawyer, had a neatly folded envelope in his briefcase when he boarded a train from Meerut to Amritsar in the summer of 1954. Muralidhar was visiting Raibahadur Kishorchand, a prosperous steel trader, seeking a matrimonial alliance for his son, Jitendra Prakash.

After mooh dikhai (a ritual in which the groom's family sees the face of the bride), Muralidhar handed over the envelope to Ashalata, the prospective bride, still in her early teens. The envelope contained over 100 shares of Grasim Textiles worth Rs 1,000-a princely sum in those times.

“This was the first lot of shares I owned. In fact, I held on to Grasim for so long that it multiplied many times, both in terms of price and volume (thanks to several tranches of bonus and rights issues). I sold a portion to meet the marriage expenses of my daughter,” says Ashalata, now 80 years old.

Ashalata and Jitendra Prakash Maheshwari own shares in traditional powerhouses such as the Tata, Birla, Mahindra and Wadia Group companies, besides perennial favourites such as HDFC Bank, HDFC, HUL, Colgate and United Spirits. Almost all these firms have been bought at 'par prices' (face value of a share) or prices as low as Rs 20-30 a share. They have been holding some of these shares for over 45 years.

The Maheshwaris manage their investments in two – core and trading – portfolios. The core portfolio is prized while the trading portfolio is churned. High liquidity stocks such as HDFC Bank, L&T and Axis Bank are bought at lower prices and sold at small gains. “We make money during market volatility. It helps pay bills,” says Jitendra Prakash Maheshwari, 82, who began his career as a criminal lawyer but moved to manage his family's textile business and personal investments early in life.

More than their investments, the Maheshwaris are known for their proximity to the managements of the companies they have invested in. Company secretaries send the couple invitations to attend AGMs. Some of them also request Ashalata to write shaayaris, praising the chairman and the board. Cheeky liners calling Ratan Tata 'Eid ka chand' and Arundhati Bhattacharya (the SBI boss) 'Chaudhavin ka chand' take shape after intense brainstorming.

There's no point fighting managements, says Jitendra Prakash. “It is better to cajole them into giving what we want. We've benefitted a lot being nice to companies.”

Portfolio Over 1,000 companies
Declared worth of portfolio Rs.5-6 crore
Core holding period    40-45 years

 

 



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