Saurabh Agrawal, group chief financial officer (CFO) at Tata Sons, is set to become the chairman of Tata AIA Life Insurance
and Tata AIG General Insurance, replacing group veteran Ishaat Hussain who retires next week after turning 70.
Agrawal, a seasoned investment banker, is one of the key hires of Tata Sons
Chairman N Chandrasekaran, popularly known as Chandra, since he took over the reins of the $104-billion Tata group in February.
“Agrawal will be taking over the leadership roles in finance
companies of the group,” said a Tata group insider familiar with the plans.
As group CFO, Agrawal has been entrusted with the task of restructuring the group, which has over 100 operating companies from salt to software. He has been asked to look into the cross-holdings and reduce them. There is also a possibility of divesting some companies that are not on the group’s priority list.
Prior to his current role which he took up last month, Agrawal was head of strategy at Aditya Birla Group where he oversaw the Idea-Vodafone merger and the buyout of Jaypee group’s cement assets by UltraTech, besides the merger of group firms Grasim and Aditya Birla Nuvo, in his short stint of about a year.
Agrawal has had a long stint with DSP Merrill Lynch where he had also worked on initial public offering of Tata Consultancy Services. There he had the opportunity to work with Chandra, too. Then he moved to Standard Chartered Bank before joining Aditya Birla Group.
Hussain is also director-finance
on the Tata Sons
board -- a position that will fall vacant with his retirement. It may take some time before his replacement on the board is finalised.
Hussain joined the board of a Tata Steel associate, Indian Tube Company, in 1981. In 1983, he moved to the Tata Steel board when the associate was merged with the parent. He served as director-finance
at Tata Steel for a decade before moving to Tata Sons
as executive director in 1999.
He became director-finance
at Tata Sons
in July 2000 and, after over 12 years of service that saw the group increasing international footprint through global acquisitions such as Corus and Jaguar Land Rover, he moved to a non-executive position.