MUMBAI: Debu Bhattacharya, a veteran of the Aditya Birla Group and the managing director of group flagship Hindalco Industries, has decided to step down from his post after 13 years with the company. Bhattacharya, 68, will demit office on August 1 and will be succeeded by his current deputy, Satish Pai.
Bhattacharya will, however, continue his association with the group and has been appointed vice-chairman of Hindalco, a non-executive post created for the first time in the Mumbai-based conglomerate.
According to people familiar with the group, Bhattacharya will work with chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla on developing new businesses.
He will also be involved in the group’s foray into new businesses, and will be based at the corporate centre.
While a company spokesperson declined to comment on the issue, his appointment at the group’s corporate centre comes at a time when the Aditya Birla Group is busy building digital platforms for its businesses.
“I have done my innings and have spent 13 long years in Hindalco. I felt it is time for me to move on and also let younger people come in,” Bhattacharya, who came from Hindustan Unilever told HT. “I will now continue as vice-chairman in a nonexecutive role.”
On Saturday, the Hindalco board appointed Satish Pai as MD for a period of five years and also inducted CFO, Praveen Maheshwari, on to the board. The company said that it had also appointed prominent lawyer Girish Dave as an independent director on board.
The change in Hindalco’s top guard was unexpected and has come at a time when the company has reported strong growth in 2015-16. The company’s standalone net profit more than doubled in January-March 2016 to Rs 356 crore.
Hindalco’s revenues however fell 8% to Rs 8,668 crore due to a fall in prices of aluminium and copper.
“The company performed despite unfavourable macroeconomic conditions, where we lost a coal mine and at a time when international growth was weak,” said Bhattacharya. “Fortunately Indian aluminium growth was good.” While global aluminium demand grew 5-6%, in India it was double of that.
Hindalco said its depreciation and finance costs were up 30%, given the progressive capitalisation of greenfield projects. These charges rose by Rs 212 crore to Rs 916 crore in January-March 2016.