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Vedanta's oil and gas head Ajay Dixit quits; co says his term comes to an end

Business Finance

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Ltd's oil and gas division Cairn CEO Ajay Dixit has decided to hang up his boots at month-end after completing his contractual term, becoming the fifth chief executive to leave the firm since it was taken over by the mining baron more than eight years back.

Dixit, who was appointed CEO of Cairn Oil and Gas in mid-April last year, has decided not to seek an extension of his contract when it comes to an end at the end of the month, sources with direct knowledge of the development said.

The company, however, insisted that Dixit, 61, was moving on after completing his contracted tenure of 5 years at the end of May 2020.

"Ajay Kumar Dixit moves on from his role as CEO, Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Ltd as he concludes his contract with the company on May 31, 2020," the company said when reached for comments.

While the company insisted that Dixit was going out in the normal course of his term coming to an end, sources said the employees within the firm came to know of his going only on Monday and if his contractual tenure end was routine the management would have made a succession announcement.

The retirement age in Cairn is 58 years.

"Besides his recent stint in oil and gas he contributed to Vedanta's power, alumina and bauxite and alumunium business.

"He has led the company's oil business and digital transformation to drive production for the energy needs of the nation, including through recent oil price volatility and the Covid-19 pandemic, and the management wishes him the best as he moves on to pursue his personal goals," the statement said.

Dixit, it said, "will retire from the company on May 31, 2020".

He had the shortest tenure of just over a year as the head of the firm that operates the nation's biggest onland field in Barmer in Rajasthan.

He was acting CEO of Vedanta's aluminum and power business before being elevated as CEO of Cairn Oil & Gas. His appointment had come after Sudhir Mathur resigned from the company.

Dixit is the fifth CEO to have leave the company since Vedanta completed the acquisition of Cairn India in December 2011.

Rahul Dhir, the company's first CEO who oversaw its listing and development of India's biggest oil discovery in Rajasthan, quit the company in August 2012. His successor P Elango resigned in May 2014, while the third CEO Mayank Ashar resigned in May 2016.

Thanking Dixit for his contribution, Sunil Duggal, Group CEO, Vedanta Ltd, said, "Ajay has been leading the oil and gas business and digital transformation, driving production to serve the energy needs of the nation, including through recent oil price volatility and the Covid-19 pandemic. The management wishes him the very best".

Cairn's Management Committee will continue to drive the oil and gas business under the overall leadership of Sunil Duggal, the statement said.

"I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead several key businesses at Vedanta from 2015 till now, most recently oil and gas. It has been a privilege to work with some of the finest teams, delivering to Vedanta's vision of making India self-sufficient in the natural resources sector. I wish the Group, and the teams I have worked with, even greater success in the days to come," Dixit was quoted as saying in the statement.

He is leaving the firm just when Agarwal announced intention to take Vedanta private by offering to buy out minority shareholders.

Agarwal's Vedanta Resources has offered to buy 48.94 per cent held by public shareholders at Rs 87.5 per share. The company share was trading at Rs 93.35 on the BSE at 1430 hrs.

Vedanta had bought 58.8 per cent stake in Cairn India from British explorer Cairn Energy for USD 8.67 billion in August 2010 and the acquisition was completed in December 2011.

In April 2017, Cairn India was merged with Vedanta and delisted from the stock exchanges.

Vedanta Ltd, whose shares have fallen more than 40 per cent this year, houses commodity as well as oil and gas business.

At the offer price of Rs 87.5, Agarwal's Vedanta Resources will have to shell out Rs 16,218 crore to acquire all of the public shareholdings.

Vedanta Resources Ltd along with the other members of the promoter group presently holds 51.06 per cent of the shareholding of Vedanta Ltd.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 18 2020. 17:15 IST