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Fortis co-founder Shivinder Singh drops lawsuit against brother after mum 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 M M Kumar of India's National Company Law Tribunal.

The suit came amid an ongoing collapse of the Singh family's generations old health-care and financial services empire. In recent months, they've 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.

When he filed the suit this month Shivinder, 43, had said he was dissociating himself from his 45-year-old brother as a business partner.

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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 Ranbaxy, 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, which is listed in Singapore, agreed to take control of Fortis and minority shareholders have taken over at Religare.

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