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Vedanta takeover aftermath: Cairn India CEO quits

In a surprise announcement, Cairn India today said its managing director and CEO of six years Rahul Dhir has quit the company.

business Updated: Aug 08, 2012 20:42 IST
New Delhi,Cairn India,Rahul Dhir

In a surprise announcement, Cairn India on Wednesday said its managing director and CEO of six years Rahul Dhir has quit the company.

Dhir, who was the face of Cairn India since the time the firm's British promoters listed it on Bombay Stock Exchange to make the company more local, quit in less than eight months of London-based mining group Vedanta taking over the firm.

With Dhir, the entire top management of Cairn India has quit the company since billionaire Anil Agarwal-owned Vedanta announced buying majority stake in the firm from Scottish explorer Cairn Energy Plc.

"The board of Cairn India announces that Dhir has decided to step down as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company effective August 31, 2012 to pursue his entrepreneurial interests," the company said in a statement.

Rick Bott, who was executive director and chief operating officer of Cairn India, quit the firm from June 15, 2011 while its executive director and chief financial officer Indrajit Banerjee resigned with effect from August 23, 2011.

Recently, David Ginger, Cairn India's director of exploration and new ventures, quit the firm.

It is unclear if Dhir's exit voilates the preconditions set by the Government for Vedanta Group to takeover Cairn India. The Government had among other things pre-conditioned approval to the acquisition on Vedanta Group retaining the entire management team at Cairn India for three years.

Vedanta completed the $8.67 billion acquisition of Cairn India in December 2011.

"The search for Dhir's successor is underway and an announcement is expected soon. During this intervening period, the Board has appointed P Elango, Director - Strategy and Business Services and a member of Cairn India's Executive Committee, as the interim CEO," it said.

Dhir took over as the Chief Executive of the company in March 2006 and spearheaded its listing on local bourses in January 2007.

Since then he has guided the firm and even helped Cairn Energy win tough regulatory approvals for sale of shareholding to Vedanta Group.

Under him, Cairn India began crude oil production from its showpiece Rajasthan oilfields three years back. The fields are currently producing 175,000 barrels per day and stage is set for the firm to achieve 300,000 bpd output.

Dhir was the only executive director on Cairn India board which is headed by Anil Agarwal's brother Navin Agarwal. Anil Agarwal's daughter Priya is a Non-Executive Director on the board.

The board has Aman Mehta, Naresh Chandra, Omkar Goswami, Edward T Story as independent directors.

The company is likely to shortly announce appointment of Sudhir Mathur as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Mathur currently is CFO at Aircel.

Cairn India in the statement said Elango, an experienced oil and gas veteran has been with Cairn for over 15 years and has worked competently alongside Dhir for the past six years.

"The Board expresses its appreciation for Dhir's dedicated service and for leading the company from the front," it said.

Navin Agarwal, Chairman of Cairn India, said: "The success of Cairn India, under Rahul's leadership has been achieved through building a globally competitive team, ensuring a strong focus on disciplined execution, sustaining low cost and safe operations and innovative application of technology".

Dhir has led Cairn India since its inception in 2006 and was instrumental in the successful IPO in January 2007.

Under his leadership, Cairn India has grown into one of the leading oil and gas companies in India, with a market capitalisation of over $11 billion. Cairn India has a world-class resource base, and operates over 200,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent oil and gas production.

Dhir said, "We have achieved all major milestones set out at the time of the IPO. With the completion of Vedanta's acquisition, Cairn India's exceptional organisation and unique asset base are well placed to continue to deliver sustainable growth and value".

"This is the right transition point for me to pursue my entrepreneurial interests," he said.

Agarwal further added, "Cairn India is well poised to continue its focus on exploration, and on augmenting our current production from Rajasthan and focus on growth in India and beyond".

First Published: Aug 08, 2012 20:39 IST