Kolkata: ITC Ltd, India’s largest cigarette maker, on Tuesday said Y.C. Deveshwar will step down as its executive chairman at the end of his term in February 2017, but will continue to helm the company as non-executive chairman for at least three more years to oversee the emergence of younger leaders.
At the company’s forthcoming annual meeting to be held in Kolkata on 22 July, a resolution is to be moved seeking shareholders’ approval to Deveshwar’s appointment as non-executive chairman for three years from February 2017, ITC said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.
Earlier, at the time of Deveshwar’s last re-appointment as chairman in 2012, the company had said he might serve part of the five-year term as non-executive chairman.
Deveshwar, 69, became chairman of the company in January 1996 at a time when it was grappling with various challenges to the new businesses it had launched.
Under Deveshwar’s watch, the company battled resistance from key shareholders to its diversification efforts.
Through two decades of his leadership, ITC’s revenue had grown ten-fold—from Rs.5,200 crore to Rs.51,500 crore, while shareholder returns grew at a compounded annual rate of 23.3%, the company claimed in its statement to shareholders.
ITC said that in view of Deveshwar’s “immense contribution” to the transformation of the company, its nomination and compensation committee had persuaded him to carry on. But he “expressed his desire to shed the executive role... (to) put in place a youthful leadership at the helm in the longer term interest of the company”.
Deveshwar divesting himself of his executive role marks the beginning of a transition, which is likely going to pave the way for executive director Sanjiv Puri, 53, to take on a bigger role in the leadership of the conglomerate.
Puri, an ITC veteran who has served the company for three decades, was appointed director last December, amid speculation that he was chosen to be Deveshwar’s successor.
Puri, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), oversees a wider portfolio of ITC’s businesses than any other director in the recent past.
He is currently responsible for the company’s consumer goods, paperboards, paper and packaging and agricultural commodities businesses.
ITC has two other executive directors on its board: Nakul Anand, 59, who looks after the company’s hotels business, and Rajiv Tandon, 62, who is responsible for its finances, having served previously as the chief financial officer.
Through the past six months, ITC has elevated several managers to key positions within its three-tier management structure, while two of its erstwhile executive directors—Pradeep Dhobale and Kurush Grant—retired in December-January.
B. Sumant, 51, for instance, took over as president (consumer goods) from 1 April to look after a wide portfolio of businesses, including cigarettes, after leading the India tobacco and trade and marketing divisions.