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Videocon fires CEO before he can join

From finance and airlines, the human cost of the financial meltdown is spreading to other sectors, reports Lalatendu Mishra.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2008 13:21 IST
Lalatendu Mishra
Lalatendu Mishra
Hindustan Times

From finance and airlines, the human cost of the financial meltdown is spreading to other sectors.

On October 6, Bharat Business Channel Ltd, the direct-to-home (DTH) television wing of Videocon, issued a letter offering a job to a non-resident Indian (NRI) working as the CEO of a company in a South-East Asian country.

He was invited to join Bharat Business Channel as its chief of technology division in Noida, on an annual salary of Rs 48 lakh.

The man, whose name has been withheld on request, was to join work on October 20 when Videocon withdrew the offer on October 18, hours before he was to board a flight to India on October 19.

“Due to internal rationalisation, we are currently holding all recruitments,” said the email sent by Videocon’s human resources department.

“We would request you to continue with the current assignment. The current offer of joining is withdrawn, we will inform you about any development in January.”

Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot denied a freeze on recruitment or any plans to shelve the venture due to slowdown and entry of other players.

However, the company chairman admitted the project had been deferred by a few months.

But he could not explain why the letter of offer was withdrawn at the last minute. He asked HT to get in touch with his brother, Videocon director P.N. Dhoot.

PN Dhoot said in an e-mail to HT: “(The NRI) had earlier rejected the offer to join us on Oct. 1. Our DTH project is on target and has started its all-India FUT (friendly user trials), hence it was important for Videocon to look for someone else who could join earlier.”

He wrote that a Korean and his two juniors were appointed then.

“Unfortunately,” Dhoot added, “we then received acceptance of [the NRI] to join, but by that time these three people were on board… Whatever misunderstanding/miscommunication (he) has with our operations team is unfortunate and we plan to accommodate him in our expansions or in the telecom business in the future.”

But email communications between the HR department of Videocon and the professional — in possession with HT — clearly indicate that revised employment offer was made on October 6, after both parties agreed for a new joining date of October 20.

On September 29, the NRI expressed his inability to join on October 1 due to incompletion of formalities of an overseas job. Yet, a fresh offer was made by Videocon.

The NRI quit his job in the South-East Asian country, cancelled his work visa which was valid till 2011 — as it was a pre-condition of the Videocon offer — and packed his bags for India.

“How can I continue after resigning? Someone else has taken over my responsibilities,” the former CEO said. “Since my visa is shortened, I must leave the country immediately. My family is here, I will be jobless in India. How can Videocon refuse to honour the commitment? Till October 16, their HR department was corresponding with me for accommodation and airport pick-up.”

In a letter to the Indian high commissioner, the NRI demanded action against Videocon, which, he alleged, has ruined his career. He is also planning to move court.