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Shivinder Singh drops lawsuit against brother Malvinder after mother steps in

Mumbai

A PUBLIC rupture between the heirs to one of India's most storied business houses looks to be healing after the mother of the two Singh brothers - synonymous with each other for decades - convinced her younger son to withdraw a lawsuit against the elder.

Shivinder Singh withdrew a suit alleging "oppression and mismanagement" against his brother Malvinder and a senior manager in their corporate group after their mother requested they engage in mediation led by family elders instead, according to an order on Friday by Justice MM Kumar of India's National Company Law Tribunal.

The suit came amid an ongoing collapse of the Singh family's generations-old healthcare and financial services empire. In recent months, they have seen their public shareholdings seized by lenders, the launch of a criminal probe into 23 billion rupees (S$439 million) missing from their listed companies, and a court order to pay US$500 million over fraud allegations arising from the 2008 sale of drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories. Both brothers have previously denied any wrongdoing.

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In a statement on Friday, Shivinder Singh, 43, said his decision to disassociate himself from his 45-year-old brother as a business partner stands despite withdrawal of the suit. If mediation fails, he held out the possibility of filing a new case. Malvinder Singh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Singhs are famous in India for expanding their two public firms - hospital operator Fortis Healthcare Ltd and financial firm Religare Enterprises Ltd - at breakneck speed after reaping US$2 billion from the sale of the business their father had built.

Ranbaxy was then India's largest drugmaker. Their two other companies went on to top US$1 billion in market value as India's demand for health and financial services climbed.

India's stock market and fraud regulators have launched investigations into financial irregularities at Religare and Fortis, although they are yet to report their findings. In July, Malaysia's IHH Healthcare Bhd agreed to take control of Fortis and minority shareholders have taken over at Religare. BLOOMBERG