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Race for Mindtree CEO's post: 3 on L&T shortlist to replace Rostow Ravanan

As engineering major secures controlling stake in IT firm, likelihood of an early exit of Ravanan looks imminent

Debasis Mohapatra  |  Bengaluru 

Rostow Ravanan, CEO and Managing Director, Mindtree
Rostow Ravanan

Larsen & Toubro (L&T), which has secured controlling stake in Mindtree, has started the process to pick the next chief executive officer of the IT services company amid talks of an early exit of CEO and co-founder Rostow Ravanan, sources said.

According to multiple sources in the know, the engineering major is evaluating at least two internal and one external candidates for the top post.

L&T’s open offer for came to an end on Friday with the company receiving 1.16 times more bids than the offer quantity. As L&T has already crossed 60 per cent holding in the Bengaluru-based company, the likelihood of an early exit of Ravanan looks imminent, the sources said.

Leading the race for the CEO post is former Cognizant president Rajeev Mehta, who has joined the firm with a mandate to increase the contribution of IT services in L&T’s revenue pie. Mehta, who left Cognizant in May, as part of a big shake-up at the top level, is expected to help the $18-billion construction and engineering major to oversee the integration of with L&T’s other IT portfolio firms.

“Mehta has seen the complete growth cycle of Cognizant, which has reached a revenue level of $16 billion. In that sense, he has the ability to scale up L&T’s IT play in coming years,” said a Bengaluru-based IT outsourcing advisor.

The contenders

Left: Former Cognizant president Rajeev Mehta, if selected, may help L&T scale its IT play  and oversee integration

Left: Former Cognizant president Rajeev Mehta, if selected, may help L&T scale its IT play and oversee integration. Right: Ex-CEO Anjan Lahiri is being considered as he can fill in the absence of IT service company’s founders

Apart from Mehta, L&T is learnt to have reached out to Anjan Lahiri, former CEO of Birlasoft who is also a co-founder and former CEO for IT services business at Mindtree. Lahiri stepped down from the post of managing director and CEO at Birlasoft in May after overseeing the complex merger and demerger process with KPIT Technologies.

“Lahiri stepped down due to personal reasons. But, he is also being evaluated as a probable candidate as he can fill in the absence of Mindtree’s founders and can give a lot of credibility to L&T's efforts of integration,” said another person. Among all these market buzz, emergence of a dark horse is also not ruled out, sources said. Parthasarathi Chatterjee, who heads L&T’s oil and gas business, is seen another such candidate in the fray.

ALSO READ: Valuations under pressure as Street seeks management stability in Mindtree

A detailed mail sent to L&T remained unanswered till the time of going to press. Ravanan could not be reached for his comments.

Earlier, reports suggested that L&T was keen on retaining Krishnakumar Natarajan as the non-executive chairman of Mindtree to oversee the transition post L&T coming on board.

“He seems to have been approached, but the question is whether he would like to stay back after such hostilities,” said a person close to him.

Last week, Mindtree board approved appointment of L&T’s nominees — Mumbai-based firm’s CEO & MD, S N Subrahmanyan, and CFO Ramamurthi Shankar Raman.

Mindtree's cofounder Subroto Bagchi has opted out of reappointment.

With the completion of L&T’s open offer, L&T received bids for 59.7 million shares against an offer for 51.3 million shares.

First Published: Fri, June 28 2019. 21:47 IST