Larsen & Toubro on Monday set in motion the process that may later culminate in a much-awaited succession plan at the country’s largest heavy engineering and infrastructure firm. The company’s board, which met earlier in the day, announced the appointment of SN Subrahmanyan as deputy managing director and president of the company, with effect from October 1. Subrahmanyan, 54, currently is senior executive vice-president at the company and has been on its board since 2011. The board on Monday also appointed DK Sen as a whole-time director and senior executive vice-president (infrastructure).
“These appointments are in line with our plans for succession and seamless transition of leadership. Both Subrahmanyan and Sen have decades of experience in the company and proven track records of performance,” group executive chairman AM Naik said in a statement.
The appointments come ahead of current chief executive officer and managing director KV Venkataramanan’s retirement at the end of this month.
After the company’s annual general meeting on September 9, Naik had hinted that with the superannuation of Venkataramanan the company may not appoint a chief executive officer and managing director as there were different heads to handle the various divisions of the company with the group executive chairman holding the overall reins.
“Normally, when the chairman is a non-executive chairman, the CEO and MD’s position is a must. But when there is a group executive chairman, the company may think of a different kind of structure. Whether that means that a CEO and MD is required or not, the board has not yet applied its mind to it. It will in due course,” Naik had then said. “We are going to do a lot of thinking for the succession planning over the next few months. So in two-three months we should have an answer,” he had added.
L&T, in April 2012, had split the post of chairman and managing director with Naik becoming group executive chairman and continuing to hold executive powers. Venkataramanan, the then whole-time director and president of the hydrocarbon business, was elevated as CEO and MD. Naik had been appointed chairman and managing director in 2003 but since 2012, Venkataramanan has been looking after the company’s day-to-day business.
Naik has on many occasions indicated that he has been grooming two insiders for the top job as well as working on building an entire team.
Naik is among the oldest executive professionals in the corporate sector having turned 73 in June and five years older than Yogesh Chander Deveshwar, chairman at Kolkata-headquartered ITC, who turned 68 in February. He has said that he would step down once he turns 75, which gives him two years at the helm of the company’s affairs.
Currently, Subrahmanyan oversees a large chunk of L&T’s fast-growing businesses which account for half the company’s consolidated revenues of Rs 92,761.66 crore. He has a degree in civil engineering and a postgraduate qualification in business management. Commencing his professional career with L&T in 1984 as a project planning engineer, he has over the last 30 years played a critical role in driving many of the company’s infrastructure and construction projects.