AK Balyan new CEO & MD of Petronet LNG | business | Hindustan Times
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AK Balyan new CEO & MD of Petronet LNG

business Updated: May 30, 2010 16:09 IST

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Ashok Kumar Balyan will be the new CEO and Managing Director of Petronet LNG, the nation's largest liquefied natural gas importer.

Balyan, who currently is Director for Human Resources and Business Development in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, was selected for the top job by a panel consisting of the heads of the promoters of Petronet yesterday, a source in the know of the development said.

The so-called Search Committee of promoter directors of Petronet, after interviews of potential candidates recommended A Sengupta as second best candidate after Balyan.

Sengupta is Director (Finance) in Petronet.

The recommendations of the Search Committee will be put up to Petronet board headed by Oil Secretary S Sundareshan, the source said, adding the approval was more of a formality now.

Balyan will have to resign from ONGC to head Petronet. He is due to retire from ONGC on July 31, 2011 on attaining superannuation age of 60 years.

Being a private firm, the retirement age in Petronet is 65 years.

Balyan will be appointed for an initial period of 5 years as CEO and Managing Director of Petronet, which can be further extended till such time that he attains age of 65 years.

The source said of the 10 candidates shortlisted, only seven appeared before the Search Committee for interview yesterday.

Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL Chairman and Managing Director Arun Balakrishnan, former Indian Oil Head Sarthak Behuria, steel-maker SAIL Chairman S K Roongta and GAIL Finance Director RK Goel were among those who appeared for interview.

After his unceremonious exit from IOC this February, Behuria was appointed adviser to Petronet and it was perceived by many that he may land with the top job.

Behuria was eligible for an extension of service as Chairman of IOC till his superannuation in 2012 but the government unexpectedly showed him the door in February when his first five-year term came to an end.

"In all, 29 candidates had applied for the job and the Search Committee had shortlisted 10 meeting the eligibility criteria," the source said.

The Search Committee comprised representatives of the five promoter companies of PLL.

Of the candidates in fray only Goel and Balyan had experience with gas sourcing -- the primary job of PLL.

The post of Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director fell vacant after incumbent Prasad Dasgupta took early retirement. Dasgupta's five-year term was to come to an end on August 31 and he was eligible for a two-year extension till he attained superannuation at the age of 65 in 2012.

He, however, quit the job last month.

Petroleum Secretary S Sundareshan, who is the Chairman of Petronet LNG, constituted the committee comprising representatives of IOC, ONGC, GAIL, Bharat Petroleum and Gaz de France. Petronet Independent Director DP Roy is also in the committee, the source said.

The four oil PSUs hold 12.5 per cent each in Petronet while GdF has 10 per cent.

Imperial Energy CEO Ashok Verma, Hindustan Latex Chairman and Managing Director M Ayyappan and Projects & Development India Chairman and Managing director R G Rajan were also shortlisted but of these only Ayyappan appeared for the interview.

The post of MD & CEO of Petronet carries a remuneration five times the salary of a PSU chairman. What is more, the retirement age at Petronet is 65, whereas the retirement age at PSUs is 60 years. These are reasons why PSU heads superannuating this year had applied for the job, the source said.

Balakrishnan will reach superannuation on July 31, while Roongta is due to retire on May 31.