March 18 (Bloomberg) -- K. Anji Reddy, the founder of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., India’s second-largest drugmaker, died Friday after “ailing for some time,” the company said.
The cause of death wasn’t given in a statement released by Dr. Reddy’s late on March 15. Reddy, a billionaire, died of liver cancer at the Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, the Indian Express reported, without saying where it got the information.
“We deeply regret the demise of our beloved Founder-Chairman,” the company said in a black entry page to its website, bearing the message and a photograph of Reddy, whose year of birth was given as 1941. “May his soul rest in peace.”
A chemical engineer, Reddy founded his namesake company in 1984, according to the statement. He started funding research with an investment of 60 million rupees ($1.1 million) in 1993 with the goal of making the Hyderabad-based company the first Indian firm to create a drug and sell it globally, Reddy said in an interview in 2006 in which he said he was born in 1939.
For the first time, he missed the company’s annual shareholder meeting last July, leading to speculation about his retirement, Forbes said on its website in a profile of Reddy. He had earlier stepped down from an active executive role at the company, which is now managed by his son Satish Reddy, who is managing director, and son-in-law G.V. Prasad, who is vice chairman and chief executive officer.
“The second line of management that he had created is good enough to take the company forward,” said Surya Narayan Patra, an analyst at Systematix Shares & Stocks Ltd. in Mumbai.
‘Like Playing God’
Reddy, who was conferred India’s third-highest civilian honor, the Padma Bhushan, in 2011, listed Dr. Reddy’s on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001, the first drug company from Asia, excluding Japan, to list on the U.S. bourse.
The company reported record sales of 96.6 billion rupees ($1.8 billion) in the year ended March 31. Larger Indian rival Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. reported revenue of 122.5 billion rupees in the 12 months to Dec. 31.
Dr Reddy’s shares fell 1.2 percent to 1,800.05 rupees at 11:11 a.m. in Mumbai.
“I want to see one of my products being taken by people across the world,” Reddy said in the 2006 interview. “I want to see them improving and leading a better life. It’s like playing God.”
Kallam Anji Reddy spent his early years in the village of Tadepalli in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where his father grew turmeric, an Indian spice. Reddy graduated from the local high school and went on to get a bachelor of science degree from Andhra Christian College in Guntur in 1958.
“In improving access to affordable, high quality medicines and in innovation, his contributions have been extraordinary,” Satish Reddy said in Friday’s statement.
A native speaker of Telegu, Reddy taught himself English and earned another bachelor’s degree in pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals in 1964 from the University of Bombay, now called the University of Mumbai. He followed that with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the National Chemical Laboratory in the western city of Pune.
In 1985, Reddy started making methyldopa, an off-patent hypertension drug that Merck had discovered. A year later, Reddy listed his company on the Bombay Stock Exchange and four regional exchanges by selling 1.1 million shares to the public. Reddy’s passion for research led Dr. Reddy’s taking up drug discovery research in 1993 and was the first pharmaceutical company in India to initiate basic drug discovery research.
“He had one unrealized dream,” Saumen Chakraborty, chief financial officer of the company, said in an interview. “It was to launch a drug discovered and developed by Dr. Reddy’s. Hopefully, we will fulfill his dream one day.”
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