The country’s largest consumer goods company Hindustan Unilever (HUL) on Thursday elevated Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD & CEO) Sanjiv Mehta to the position of chairman following the retirement of incumbent Harish Manwani in June. The announcement was made after a board meeting on Thursday. Manwani, non-executive chairman of HUL, will retire after 13 years in the position, capping his four-decade stint at the company. The 64-year-old consumer goods veteran is also HUL’s longest-serving chairman, joining the company as a trainee in 1976. He was appointed COO of parent Unilever in June 2011 and retired in 2014, continuing as chairman of the Indian subsidiary. “Harish leaves behind a legacy that few will be able to match. He has lived the values that make HUL such a great company. Through his passion, commitment, and endless energy, he leaves a lasting impact on the business,” Mehta, who took over as MD & CEO in October 2013, said.
The board meeting also saw Mehta, 57, being re-appointed as MD & CEO for a period of five years after the completion of his term in October. He would be re-designated as CMD after the annual general meeting in June, the company said.
It will be the first time since 1996 that HUL will have a single person holding both positions, of chairman and MD.
According to Capitaline data, K B Dadiseth was the last person to hold both positions. Mehta's tenure will, however, be till March 2020, after which HUL will separate the positions of chairman and MD, in keeping with the recent Kotak Committee recommendations.
HUL said the board had, as part of periodic succession planning, discussed the succession plan concerning the chairman. This was before the Kotak Committee report on corporate governance was made public. The Securities and Exchange Board of India had announced on March 22 that the separation of the posts of chairman and managing director would be effective from April 2020 for the top 500 companies by market capitalisation. On Wednesday, HUL entered the list of the country's top-five most valuable companies by market capitalisation, crossing Rs 3 trillion in value. While the stock price remained volatile on Thursday, it closed trade on the BSE at Rs 1,413 per share.