Mumbai: Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) said on Thursday that non-executive chairman Harish Manwani will retire after the company’s forthcoming annual general meeting .

Sanjiv Mehta, who is currently chief executive officer and managing director of the company, will take over as interim chairman in addition to his existing roles.

Manwani is the India unit’s longest-serving non-executive chairman, having been in the position since 2005. During his tenure as chairman, Manwani oversaw a period of sustained growth, with the business nearly tripling in size, and HUL reinforcing itself as one of India’s most admired firms, the company said in a note.

Harish Manwani, the outgoing chairman of Hindustan Unilever. Photo: Bloomberg
Harish Manwani, the outgoing chairman of Hindustan Unilever. Photo: Bloomberg

Manwani joined HUL as a management trainee in 1976 and joined the HUL board in 1995 as a director responsible for the personal products business. In 2005, he was appointed to the Unilever executive committee as president-Asia, Africa, Middle East, and the role later expanded to include central and eastern Europe. From 2011 to 2014, he was chief operating officer of Unilever.

One of the most successful leaders of HUL, Manwani strongly believes that the challenges businesses face today can only be addressed through the “4G sustainable growth model" of competitive, consistent, profitable and above all, responsible growth. This model has been central to the company’s business strategy in India.

“Harish leaves behind a legacy that few will be able to match. He has lived the values that make HUL such a great company. Through his passion, commitment and endless energy, he leaves a lasting impact on the business. I will personally miss his leadership and wise counsel," said Mehta in a statement.

Mehta’s appointment will be an interim arrangement until the company identifies a new chairman. Last month, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India had accepted most of the recommendations made by the Kotak Committee to improve governance standards in listed Indian firms. This includes separating the post of chairman and managing director. The HUL board will ensure compliance with the new regulation of separation of the two positions by April 2020.

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