Rahul Dhir: In and out at the top

Richa Mishra
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Rahul Dhir, former CEO, Cairn India Ltd.
Business Line Rahul Dhir, former CEO, Cairn India Ltd.

Since it became a Vedanta Group company, Cairn has also seen significant changes in the top order. This was to be expected.

The industry has been talking about it since the Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy sold a significant stake in Cairn India in favour of the Vedanta Group.

Those tracking the industry were waiting to see when the face of the company — Managing Director and CEO, Rahul Dhir — would announce his exit.

Rumours about Dhir’s exit gathered momentum when, earlier this year, he sold a significant portion of his shares in Cairn.

On August 8, Dhir announced his exit effective August 31 to pursue his “entrepreneurial interests”.

Insiders say the very Scottish DNA of the company has led to smooth operations despite churning at the top management level.

Last August, Dhir’s term as CEO was extended for five years and, after the recent management change, he was retained as CEO.

But Dhir leaves with a hefty packet, thanks to his stock options.

An investment banker who joined Cairn in 2006, he was given stock options of 3.5 million shares as part of his compensation in three tranches. Impressed by Dhir, who was working with Merrill Lynch then, Bill Gammell, Cairn Energy’s founder, had handpicked him.

Dhir, who has been part of Cairn India, since its inception in 2006, is not the first one to move out.

Rick Bott, who was Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, quit in June 2011, followed by ED and CFO, Indrajit Banerjee, in August 2011. David Ginger, Cairn India's Director of Exploration and New Ventures, is also on his way out.

While a formal announcement on Dhir’s replacement is still awaited, the company has got a new CFO in Sudhir Mathur.

In the intervening period, the board has appointed P. Elango, Director – Strategy and Business Services, and a member of Cairn India’s Executive Committee, as interim CEO.

(This article was published on September 2, 2012)
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