BK to hand over Kesoram mantle to Kumar Mangalam

Written by fe Bureau | Kolkata | Updated: Jun 28 2009, 02:49am hrs
Basant K Birla, chairman of the Rs 10,000 crore BK Birla Group, on Friday laid all speculation to rest by announcing that grandson Kumar Mangalam Birla will head flagship Kesoram Industries after his retirement.

The 89-year-old patriarch said he had spoken to Kumar Mangalam Birla about retiring at 90 but pointed out that his grandson has asked me to carry on till Im physically fit. At a press conference after the 90th annual general meeting of Kesoram Industries in Kolkata on Friday, BK Birla said he has drawn up a new will which has been approved by his family members only about a month ago.

Under that, Kesoram Industries, Century Textiles and Century Enka will go to Kumar Mangalam Birla, head of the Aditya Birla Group, and the rest Manjushree Plantation, Jayashree Tea, Mangalam Cements to his two daughters and granddaughters family.

He refused to answer a shareholders suggestion that youngest daughter Manjushree Khaitan, director on the board of Kesoram Industries, be made a vice-chairman in the company. At the end of the AGM, BK Birla took the mike and said: After my retirement, my grandson will take over Kesoram. After the AGM, when Manjushree Khaitan was asked whether she sees an enhanced role in the company, she quipped: Ask Mr Birla. All decisions will be taken by BK Birla and Kumar Mangalam Birla. Prodded on whether she will continue on the board as director, she retorted: Why shouldnt I be on the board Kesoram expansion, backed by good demand in cement and tyres, the core businesses of the company, is embarking on a Rs 1,550 crore expansion plan in the next 15-18 months, said director and company secretary SK Parik.

While it plans to invest Rs 750 crore to increase its cement production from 7.25 million mt to 10 million mt, it is investing Rs 800 crore to double its tyre capacities which is at 823 metric tonne today. While one-third of the funds will come from internal accruals, two-thirds will come from debt, added Parik.

Kesoram earned a net profit of Rs 378.74 crore in 2008-09, a dip from 2007-08s Rs 383.35 crore, but company officials said it did well considering the fact that it had to contend with the slowdown and an unprecedented liquidity crunch.

At the board meeting on Friday, the board took note of the expansion plan but is yet to give its go-ahead.