Top industrialist R.P. Goenka dies

Rama Prasad Goenka, one of the country’s biggest industrialists and the architect of RPG Enterprises, died at his Kolkata residence early Sunday morning. He was 83 and was suffering from old age-related illnesses. The family said the end came at 6 am. He is survived by wife Sushila and sons Harsh Vardhan and Sanjiv, both leading industrialists.
R.P. Goenka was born in 1930, read history at Kolkata’s Presidency College and later an advanced management course at Harvard University in the United States.
Known as India’s top “takeover specialist”, Goenka had served as a Rajya Sabha member, was once president of Ficci and chairman of IIT-Kharagpur board of governors. He was twice awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure by Japan’s Emperor.
He established RPG Enterprises in 1979, largely with inherited companies like Phillips Carbon Black, Asian Cables, Agarpara Jute Mill and Murphy India. He took up Ceat Tyres of India in 1981, then KEC in 1982, Searle India (now RPG Life Sciences) in 1983, Dunlop in 1984 and Gramophone Company of India (now Saregama India) in 1986. In 1989,Goenka took control of four new companies — CESC, Harrisons Malayalam, Spencer & Co and ICIM in 1989. His last major acquisition was Calcutta Electric Supply Corp. in 1989, which has since been renamed CESC.
Under a succession plan, his business empire was split between Harsh (chairman of RPG Enterprises) and Sanjiv (chairman of RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group) in 2011. But he remained chairman emeritus of both groups.
In a condolence message to his wife Sushila, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday “Goenka was an industrialist whose contribution to the establishment
of various industrial and business enterprises helped in national development (and) created employment opportunities for thousands”. Mr Mukherjee said he knew “Rama Babu”, as he was fondly called by friends, for many years. The President also called Sanjiv Goenka to convey his condolences. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in a message: “Today we lost one of Bengal’s true champions of business and industry.”
Top industry figures across the country expressed grief. Ambuja Neotia group chief Harsh Neotia said RPG was a statesman with sound business advice. “He was called the takeover king and he came in at a time to acquire ailing business houses and later on successfully revived them.” Birla patriarch Basant Kumar Birla and wife Sarala said in a statement: “We are extremely grieved to learn of the sad demise of R.P. Goenka.”
Said CII president S. Gopalakrishnan: “One of the tallest business leaders passed away from our midst, and India has lost one of the doyens of business.”
Tweeted Vijay Mallya: “Deeply saddened to hear (of) the passing away of an icon ... Rest in peace Rama Babu.”

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