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Wednesday, Dec 31, 2003

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A.M. Naik elevated as CMD

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Mr A.M. Naik, L&T Managing Director and CEO, coming out after a board meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday. Seen behind are directors Mr Kumar Mangalam Birla and Mrs Rajshree Birla. — Shashi Ashiwal

Mumbai , Dec. 30

LARSEN & Toubro got its first executive Chairman in more than 14 years with the elevation of Mr A.M. Naik (currently Managing Director & CEO) to the post of Chairman and Managing Director at its board meeting here on Tuesday.

This is with effect from April next year; Mr Naik, whose term as MD and CEO expires in April, will have a five-year term as CMD. However, he will act as CMD with effect from Tuesday itself, senior board members said, as they left the venue of the meeting at the company's headquarters here.

L&T last had an executive Chairman in Mr N.M. Desai who retired in 1989. The subsequent Chairmen, Mr Dhirubhai Ambani, and Mr D.N. Ghosh (whose tenure ended in 1991), held the position in a non-executive capacity.

Mr Naik is also the first Chairman to have "risen from the executive ranks", all the earlier Chairmen having joined the company as directors, said a board member of L&T.

"Mr Naik's elevation to the post of Chairman is a matter of pride for all professionals in industry... "said a statement from the company.

The board elected Mr Naik as CMD by a unanimous vote; Mr Kumarmangalam Birla, now director in the company, speaking to presspersons after the meeting described the appointment as "very appropriate".

The appointment reflects the confidence of the board in Mr Naik's proven ability to lead the company and enable it realise the vision of becoming the country's leading engineering and technology enterprise, said a statement from the company which showered generous praise on him: "The move to elevate Mr Naik is a salutary recognition of his vision, dynamism and outstanding leadership. He has successfully led the company through some of its most challenging times to emerge stronger. Mr Naik's broad global perspective has seen the company expanding its horizons beyond domestic frontiers and positioning itself to become a true international player."

It went on to describe his emphasis on HR and IT as twin engines of growth which are yielding significant results, his restructuring of the operating divisions, and dwelt on his role in the demerger of the company's cement business as well as his conceptualisation of the proposal of an employees' foundation trust (which will buy Grasim's stake in L&T in the demerger deal).

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