Three companies for three nephews?

It's not exactly a replay of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. There's no music or dancing. The difficult times which the paper and chemicals businesses are going through don't allow much of that at , the Thapar group's flagship company. Also, the script is all about splitting rather than uniting.

Ballarpur Industries Ltd is being divided into three parts, each to deal in the distinct businesses of the present unified company. The three new companies will specialise in paper, chemicals, and investments.

The group has appointed management consulting firm Price Waterhouse to work out the details of the three-way division of assets between the three nephews (Vikram, Gautam and Karan) of Lalit Mohan Thapar, chairman of the group.

The plan assumes that while L.M. Thapar will be chairman and managing director of the three companies, nephew Vikram will handle the group's paper portfolio, and Gautam the chemicals business, and both will be joint managing directors of all three companies. It's not yet clear what cousin Karan will do in the meanwhile.

The group will appoint outsiders with the designation of chief executives in all three companies. This, the group maintains, is to distance the family from the day-to-day affairs of the business and to professionalise the management.

The group is also considering the possibility of selling the chemicals division outright, or merging it with another group company, Andhra Pradesh Rayons.