04 August, 2021

Slaughterhouse 37

A 10-hour meeting leaves the ITC board in shambles, and Deveshwar still on his feet, but tottering

Slaughterhouse 37

HE’S managed to stay on top, for the moment at least. Yogesh Chandra Deveshwar, the first to arrive for the crucial ITC board meeting on November 15 and the first to leave, is still at the helm of affairs of India’s most controversial corporate giant. He is also heading the interim management committee formed to manage the day-to-day affairs of the company. But he may have been seriously weakened, and is likely to be looking at a gradual erosion of his powers over the next year.

Friday’s meeting was a bitterly-fought battle of influences. While ITC’s British parent BAT was gunning for a complete recast of the company’s board, including the removal of Deveshwar, the Indian financial institutions (FIs), which hold the largest chunk of ITC stock, threw their weight behind the chairman, pointing out that he has not been charged with any crime as yet by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The result appears to be a tie, but the balance may actually be tilted slightly in favour of BAT. The meeting gave BAT what it has been...

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